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CardCaptor
2012-11-12, 08:32 AM
I've had issues with one of my players, recently. He's upset whenever a character die, including what he considers to be important NPCs. He keeps asking me, "Why do you put so much effort into the game if one single bad roll can kill weeks of efforts?", and I honestly don't know what to answer him but: "Because I like it". Now, this guy has been quite lucky so far, and hasn't died once yet, (Since the part still is in their low levels, I just made them reroll new characters as they felt like when they died) but I now feel biased towards keeping him alive just for him not to complain, as he's a very good friend outside of the game. But he's right, rolling a 1 is usually a bad sign, and not getting initiative can just mean death.

He's worked hard on his character, and doesn't want to see it disappear as he feels it'd invalidate any and all character development he had (mind you, he's also against alignment change spells since they "mindrape" your character into thinking he's always agreed with such ideology against the character's owner's belief, but I houseruled that alignments don't really mean that much to begin with). He's heavily into roleplaying, too. And yet, I don't think it's the fact he gets attached to his characters that bothers him, but like as I've said, the fact dices are in control of his destiny. What can I do about it?

hymer
2012-11-12, 09:04 AM
Good question. I come from the opposite end of the spectrum: I tend to feel that the story becomes invalidated if you don't pretty much roll openly and stick to what the dice say. I get severely annoyed at GMs who keep characters alive that ought to have died, especially mine ('What, I can't even escape your plot by dying?').

I guess you have to put it to him this way (though not sure it'll work): There's not just a story going on, there's also a game. And if there's no risk of failure, this ruins the game, and incidentally hurts the story too, since people will begin to act with recklessness undue the moment.

Maybe point to some stories/shows you both enjoy, and talk about how there's a difference between those where everyone is invulnerable due to plot, and those where characters can die. Most people agree that the latter enhances the drama greatly.
And then there's great drama in death, too. Maybe he should be trying to play it up rather than distance himself from it.

In the end, maybe your next game should be with a different system, where he needn't worry about death so much.

Janus
2012-11-12, 09:07 AM
1. Break into his house at night.
2. Flush his goldfish down the toilet.
3. Tell him the next day that Goldy has gone to sleep and is never going to wake up.

Totally Guy
2012-11-12, 09:25 AM
For me having death at stake is great for making the statement "I care about this so much that I will risk my very life for it".

But you can't feel that way about every little thing.

Threaten other things that the player cares about so that losing is interesting and then play hard for it.

Does the game you are playing allow for stake setting in some way? Play to the game's rules on that and remind the players how the game handles stakes.

ReaderAt2046
2012-11-12, 09:26 AM
If the player is miffed that dice are in control of his destiny (and all the dimiunition of drama that implies) then I'd suggest ramping up the description. When he rolls well, describe that perfect combination of blows or eureka moment that leads to success. When he rolls poorly, describe the enemy gaining the upper hand through vicious attacks or cunning strategy. It won't fix the problem entirely, but it should help it feel more realistic.

Also, try upping the roleplaying and non-combat parts of the campaign. This will help get him up to levels where he's harder to kill and decrease the amount of dicework.

ThiagoMartell
2012-11-12, 09:32 AM
Since it's just one guy, I think he is just gonna have to roll with it.
If it was the whole group, I'd suggest using a different system, one that uses less prep time and/or doesn't have character death.

Totally Guy
2012-11-12, 09:34 AM
When he rolls poorly, describe the enemy gaining the upper hand through vicious attacks or cunning strategy. It won't fix the problem entirely, but it should help it feel more realistic.

Along these lines it's often cool to have the player succeed their task but ultimately fail the intent. Find out what the player wants to happen and how they'll make it happen. You can describe the "how" working out whilst other factors thwart the result they wanted.

Winds
2012-11-12, 10:24 AM
I think the nature of the roll would be important here.

Say I'm playing a sneak or caster that doesn't have much health. If that 'one roll' that killed me was a critical with a high-damage weapon, I'll be annoyed that it happens, but it is part of the game and I know that I have (and will again) wipe out enemies with similar events.


That said, I cannot abide situations where you need good luck to prevent such an outcome. For example, if I have a character die to a save-or-die, I'm going to be mad. Even or especially if it had been a character with low magic defense, though it is galling to have a magic-specialized character die because I couldn't roll a 15 on the die.


Short form: I'm okay with death as part of combat, but not when an enemy can just kill a character instantly.

CarpeGuitarrem
2012-11-12, 12:12 PM
You could co-opt something similar to Tenra Bansho Zero's wound system.

There, you have an HP pool and a bunch of wounds. When you take damage, you can either choose to knock down your HP or check off wound boxes. You have fewer wound boxes than HP, but you also gain a bonus from the most severe wound box that you have checked off (so a minor wound would mean that you get a small bonus, a severe wound would mean that you get a massive bonus).

You check off wound boxes on a 1-for-1 basis, substituting each wound for 1 HP. If your HP empties, you're knocked out of the fight. That's why you want to fill up wound boxes, because your HP is a measure of how long you can stay in combat. Filling in wound boxes lets you not take HP damage.

Then there's the Dead Box. When you check the Dead Box, it absorbs all of the damage from that attack (or that round, perhaps). It also means that when you drop to 0 HP, you're dead. That's it.

Why is this important? Because it lets the player set the stakes. You are not allowed to kill the character, until the Dead Box is checked. Mind you, TBZ is designed to emulate high-octane shounen anime, stretching plausability a little. If this is D&D you're talking about, though, that's basically the Western version of the same genre.

Anyhow, the player gets to decide when they're willing to put their character's life on the line. Once they do that, they understand that it's fair game, and that their character could die. But I think that should help with their control concerns. (Also, when hacking this to D&D, I would reduce the number of HP that characters get, maybe by a third, because they're able to fill up wound boxes.)

You can also apply that philosophy to the game in general. Make it clear that their character can only die if they put themselves in high-risk situations. Also point out to them when high-risk situations arise, and make sure that they understand that they're putting their character's life on the line. Ask them, "Is this really that important to the character? Important enough to risk death?"

Personally, I'm cool with a potential insta-kill, as long as I understand that's what's on the table. My character's dropped down to -5 HP (in 3.5 Edition) twice in the campaign...back-to-back sessions, actually, and it was a bit nailbiting, but that was because we've been hitting some very tough enemies. So it was cool. And kinda awesome, actually.

Bastian Weaver
2012-11-12, 12:25 PM
I dunno. Maybe you should advise your friend to try out some diceless game systems.

Eurus
2012-11-12, 12:34 PM
D&D is terrible about this sort of thing, because of the prevalence of potentially instant kill effects. Most DMs I know tend to avoid them intentionally for this very reason, because it strains the line between "dramatic danger" and "pointless death" if there's a significant chance that a CR-appropriate encounter might kill off an otherwise healthy character from one bad roll. At low levels, even a lucky crit can accomplish the same job, dropping you from full to dead in one swing.

navar100
2012-11-12, 12:37 PM
I think the nature of the roll would be important here.

Say I'm playing a sneak or caster that doesn't have much health. If that 'one roll' that killed me was a critical with a high-damage weapon, I'll be annoyed that it happens, but it is part of the game and I know that I have (and will again) wipe out enemies with similar events.


That said, I cannot abide situations where you need good luck to prevent such an outcome. For example, if I have a character die to a save-or-die, I'm going to be mad. Even or especially if it had been a character with low magic defense, though it is galling to have a magic-specialized character die because I couldn't roll a 15 on the die.


Short form: I'm okay with death as part of combat, but not when an enemy can just kill a character instantly.

Point, but at that stage of the game it would be prudent for there to be enough possible defenses to make such an occurrence rare. It would still be galling to die for having rolled a 1, yes, but when failing the save happens on a roll of 5 or less, or having outright immunity to the effect was feasibly possible, or Raise Dead isn't such a chore, or players use better tactics and actually understand healing in combat does work in some cases to prevent death, then while the risk of death is there it doesn't sting so much.

CarpeGuitarrem
2012-11-12, 12:50 PM
Point, but at that stage of the game it would be prudent for there to be enough possible defenses to make such an occurrence rare. It would still be galling to die for having rolled a 1, yes, but when failing the save happens on a roll of 5 or less, or having outright immunity to the effect was feasibly possible, or Raise Dead isn't such a chore, or players use better tactics and actually understand healing in combat does work in some cases to prevent death, then while the risk of death is there it doesn't sting so much.
This is also a good point. An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of diamond dust. The best way to avoid potentially dying from a save is to engineer situations that don't put you up against people who will force you to make the save.

If you go in with guns blazing, you're either going to be the ridiculously lucky heroes of fortune, or else the poor sops who bit it against overwhelming odds.

denthor
2012-11-12, 01:00 PM
Since this player is wondering about a NPC death or a player death.

The adventure(plot point, duengon crawl) has never been finished in the last century because there was alway a threat of dying. That is why your character is (fool hardy, insane, brave) you know which word works best to even attempt to take this on.

If you character wants a peaceful life with out any chance of death to him or thers let us run an adventure where your a farmer and never go anywhere but to the local pub with your prize pumkin.

See the end of return of king with hobbits in back round laughing and looking at the pumkin as if it is greatest thing in world. Then look at Frodo and ringernoants. Ask your player which he would rather be.

In the first Lord of ring movie one of the nine dies he could have stayed home and still lived.

Vknight
2012-11-12, 01:41 PM
If he's worried about death I have an idea.

Eclipse Phase
You body is just equipment you can replace at any time, or when you die. If your damage enough to not have recoverable parts then they can restore you from a backup.
The system has rules for death cause death is not permanent Rep is.

Or maybe something a little horror themed.

Little Fears Nightmare Edition includes the rule that a character does not die until the end of a scene. And even then they can be saved by adults, or turn into a child among the missing. Which means that a character can get near death or even die once. Downside is you got to play kids between 6-12and if you don't think your group can accomplish that then it falls apart.

Jerthanis
2012-11-12, 03:40 PM
I've had issues with one of my players, recently. He's upset whenever a character die, including what he considers to be important NPCs. He keeps asking me, "Why do you put so much effort into the game if one single bad roll can kill weeks of efforts?", and I honestly don't know what to answer him but: "Because I like it".

Well, to start with, you need to break down "Because I like it" into its component pieces. There are probably non-arbitrary reasons why you like it, and they might do more to convince him than essentially pleading him to agree with your conclusion. Break down the factors and reasons that you enjoy death as a part of the game and seek to convince him that death will result in the type of game he's interested in.

His argument is a subjective preference based on non-arbitrary criteria, namely that effort put into a character is nullified when that character dies. Your counterargument should also try to undermine this position. Try to convince him that the effort won't be wasted because the detail brought to the character can still impact the ongoing storyline, and that the test of a character's significance is how long they continue affecting things after they're gone.



Now, this guy has been quite lucky so far, and hasn't died once yet, (Since the part still is in their low levels, I just made them reroll new characters as they felt like when they died) but I now feel biased towards keeping him alive just for him not to complain, as he's a very good friend outside of the game. But he's right, rolling a 1 is usually a bad sign, and not getting initiative can just mean death.

He's worked hard on his character, and doesn't want to see it disappear as he feels it'd invalidate any and all character development he had (mind you, he's also against alignment change spells since they "mindrape" your character into thinking he's always agreed with such ideology against the character's owner's belief, but I houseruled that alignments don't really mean that much to begin with). He's heavily into roleplaying, too. And yet, I don't think it's the fact he gets attached to his characters that bothers him, but like as I've said, the fact dices are in control of his destiny. What can I do about it?

Now this addresses a different dynamic, that death as the result of one roll can be unsatisfying above and beyond the existence of death at all.

The way standard D&D wants you to deal with this is to always prepare for every possible situation, stacking buffs to make as many people as invincible to secondary effects as possible. Death Ward, Freedom of Movement, True Seeing, Mind Blank... This gives blanket immunities, obviating the need of a roll at all. My problem with this is that it is a strange way to balance a threat... it isn't like when Perseus got the mirrored shield, he calmly walked into Medusa's lair and stared her in the eyes, laughed and cut her head off...

Personally, what I like is to give players between four and six Action Points per level that they can use to reroll poor saves or attack rolls, meaning that as long as they have a reasonable chance to pass the save, they have to have a run of bad luck to fail, but these action points atrophy, and refresh only at a new level, so instakill threats can still occur, but you have a resource you can throw away to limit your chances of hinging your character's fate on a single toss of the dice.

Tengu_temp
2012-11-12, 04:08 PM
Well, the player in question does make a point. Dying because of one bad roll is not fun, and very lethal games tend to have players care about their characters and the story less. One way to handle this is to run a game where PCs usually get knocked out when they fall, not die, and actual dying is more difficult. This still keeps combat exciting because each downed character lowers your chance of winning and the party still dies if there's a TPK, but you don't have to reroll your character just because someone critted you or you failed a saving throw against a killing spell.


The way standard D&D wants you to deal with this is to always prepare for every possible situation, stacking buffs to make as many people as invincible to secondary effects as possible. Death Ward, Freedom of Movement, True Seeing, Mind Blank... This gives blanket immunities, obviating the need of a roll at all. My problem with this is that it is a strange way to balance a threat... it isn't like when Perseus got the mirrored shield, he calmly walked into Medusa's lair and stared her in the eyes, laughed and cut her head off...

This, from my experience, is one of the things that can kill the dramatism of a game most effectively, even worse than the DM stating upfront "you know people, you will never lose in this game". A game should encourage players to be smart, but also bold. There is nothing heroic or cunning about being a paranoid little coward who overprepares for every situation.

NichG
2012-11-12, 06:35 PM
I'd say there's a lot of solutions out there:

- Systems where death is hard or it is easy to return from death

7th Sea requires a specific coup-de-gras action for your character to die. You cannot die randomly. Someone must want you dead enough to burn an action in combat to do it even after you are disabled, or you must do something really flashy to die (like run into a the gunpowder room of a ship when its on fire to try to put it out at the last moment). In my current D&D campaign, you die at -MaxHP instead of -10, and there's a 'KO' region between -10 and -MaxHP where you cannot regain consciousness in the fight regardless of what is used on you - basically, you're out and are going to be out until its over.

This solution is what you could use if you don't actually care much about PCs dying, but your system resists keeping people alive without fudging.

- Systems where death is a wager

Death flags and the like have been mentioned. I think this is a good compromise between systems where its hard to die and systems where death is common. It doesn't even have to be very unrealistic, if you basically have it be a morale thing (conceptually your real HP is twice/three times/etc what your sheet says, but you automatically surrender or flee as a free action at some point unless this fight is really meaningful to you and you willfully say 'I bet my life on it').

- Systems that incentivize character death

I haven't seen so many of these. Imagine if instead of playing a character, you're playing a dynasty or some chain of related people (to retain the story). When your character dies, your next character takes up the mantle of your fallen hero and obtains either a bonus or malus in exchange for it, based on the nature of the death. A noble death is a buff, but a suicide, an ignoble death, etc is a malus. Essentially, you're rewarded for dying well or in awesome ways, and mildly penalized for suiciding a character to try to build up bonuses. Or have it actually be a tactical decision - every game your character lives you build up some sort of resource, but on death that resource is converted into a buff for your next character, and its better than linear. So you basically want to stay alive as much as possible to get as big a bonus for the next character as possible.

Anyhow, the first two categories require a change in DM-ing style depending on whether they're symmetric (no-death both for PCs and enemies) or asymmetric (PCs are special and are more able to come back). In a heavily asymmetric game, the ability to return from the dead guarantees eventually PC victory on any task that can be retried, so everything important must be time sensitive, and failure must be a real possibility or the game loses some meaning. In a symmetric game, PCs will have a hard time with plots of 'this is a bad guy, go stop him' - you need to make capture and furthermore keeping people captured a feasible thing, or just run different kinds of plots.

Jay R
2012-11-12, 07:34 PM
He is telling an interactive story about a favorite character. It's about a character, and will lose value if the character dies.

You are trying to run a game about simulation and risk.

These are in some ways inconsistent goals. There's no answer that will satisfy you both, except to hope that he stays lucky.

You are not the first to come this way; you will not be the last.

Kelb_Panthera
2012-11-12, 08:10 PM
This sounds to me like an issue of clashing play-styles. If he's the odd man out and the other players enjoy your game the way it is, you have every right to tell him to adapt or walk away. You can accomodate him somewhat by reducing or eliminating your use of SoD effects, but if he's getting clobbered in a fight, sometimes luck will clobber him a little faster; crits happen.

As for him having a problem with the dice deciding his fate, too bad. You can't have a combat system without some degree of random chance, because short of larping you just can't make combat work without it. Accomodating that issue forces you to adopt a system in which engaging in combat A) represents a major failure and B) has to be entirely ad-hocced or arbitrarily decided by the GM.

His complaint about NPC death is way out of line. You're the GM and you decide what happens in the world outside of the PC's influence. If an NPC dies, that's either a plot-hook, a consequence of failure, or a complication to make the on-going story more engaging. He needs to learn to deal with it, period.

NichG
2012-11-12, 11:51 PM
As for him having a problem with the dice deciding his fate, too bad. You can't have a combat system without some degree of random chance, because short of larping you just can't make combat work without it. Accomodating that issue forces you to adopt a system in which engaging in combat A) represents a major failure and B) has to be entirely ad-hocced or arbitrarily decided by the GM.


Slight comment here: Nobilis and Amber Diceless both manage to have combat systems without random chance. I'm not sure you'd consider either of those games to have deep combat systems, but it is possible to do. Basically you use bidding systems, lack of total information, and extremely wide decision trees (do I throw the sun at him or cause the earth to turn into a bottomless pit?) to fill in for randomness.

I'd also say that even in D&D you can do a lot to become independent of the dice. I mean, just suggest the Heroic Destiny feat to him. Once per game, death is just getting knocked out. Seems like that'd give a pretty good buffer.

Acanous
2012-11-13, 01:11 AM
Have you ever seen the 3.5 suppliment "Ghostwalk"?
There's things you can do with a player after they've died. Ways to bring them back. Adventures they can go on while dead.

I had a player who cheated pretty often on his die rolls so he'd never die, but after he ended up dead ANYHOW due to PVP, I had him go on a solo adventure in the Abyss. He ended up making it to Demon and summoned back VIA Planar Binding, for FURTHER quests in the prime material, until he arranged for his own ressurrection and got back with the party.

Now he doesn't mind the idea of his character dying.

scurv
2012-11-13, 02:33 AM
We use a crit/fumble table that we pieced together to avoid the one dice roll kill event.

Do not get me wrong, a run of bad luck can end your day. But a roll on the chart and a save seems to work well for us (and it does occasionally kill ours from time to time). Trade off is that with this chart, our crits are not near as awesome ether.

Alaris
2012-11-13, 04:47 AM
Actually... I just had an issue with this a few days ago in my game. A player of mine has been playing a single character for the past... 30+ sessions of game (8+ hours per session). He's REALLY grown attached to the character. I can understand that. Hell, admittedly, the character has died a total of 4 times, and has come back each time (D&D 3.5).

Spoilered For Length:
In the most recent session, the party had decided to wander off to the ruins of a town, where, as cliche as it sounds, "No adventurer has ever returned from." Well, the party gets to the final room, finds the "uber treasure" they were going after, but also finds out that what is essentially a 'bomb' is going to go off in 5 rounds, and it's going to take the entire town with it.

Another one of my players, being as dramatic as he is, decided he's going to wait till the last possible moment before casting that Teleport spell to get out.

>.> Well, that teleport spell failed. And since it was the last minute, nobody could do anything. [Now before you say anything, I gave each player the opportunity, during EACH ROUND, to actually do something else. Nobody did].

So, the 'bomb' went off. The entire party was killed in it. Now, because I'm not a **** of a DM, the players have a way to come back. Dying in that way is not without consequence though, and they were told by an NPC "You will not be able to go back." [Obvious baiting, they're the heroes. They should push past that and say "OH yes we can!"]

>.> So... the player who was very attached to his character... did not take it well. He yelled at the other player (the one who waited till the last moment) and then went home. He holds the other player completely responsible for "ruining" his character.

Needless to say, some players need to take a step back and cool down. It's a game. I can understand being attached to your characters. Hell, I've had to walk away from the table occasionally, but some people take it too far.

hymer
2012-11-13, 07:01 AM
@ Alaris: Why did the teleport spell fail?

Man on Fire
2012-11-13, 09:41 AM
Make death more than just simple bad roll. Just telling plyer "you die" is pretty weak. Try to play with it. Give the character funeral, suddenly stop the fight to describe how fallen warrior enters the Vallhalla, let him do their last awesome action before dying, prolong their death a bit to let them say goodbye, or even trick other players into thinking they're fine and then have the character die in his sleep - make death powerful and emotional, let it be his character's last dance, not just one unlucky roll.

Also, sometimes you may just do what Spoony once did (cannot remember which Counter Monkeys rant it was) - one of his players rolled poorly and was killed by by avatar of the evil godess, Scorpion Queen. But instead of killing him, Gm said that killing attack inject him with something. Something that turned out to be Scorpion Queen's essence, which, after her defeat, started driving him crazy and tried to turn him evil.

Gamer Girl
2012-11-13, 09:59 AM
He's upset whenever a character die, including what he considers to be important NPCs. He keeps asking me, "Why do you put so much effort into the game if one single bad roll can kill weeks of efforts?", and I honestly don't know what to answer him

Well, I'm on the far other side here as I slay characters and stack them like cord wood....

The Answer to the question is simply Chance. It's the pure randomness that makes the game fun and exciting. To put it simply: Anything can happen. And that is the most fun you can get out of a game: sitting back and watching as anything that can happen does, and having the game take on a life of it's own.




He's worked hard on his character, and doesn't want to see it disappear

Players say this sort of thing all the time. But, it's this work and effort that makes death of a character such a big deal. After all if it took one second to make a character(like picking a game token) then it would be meaningless.

Dreaded Video Game Example: Ever play a video game on 'immortal'? Every just walk through 10 challenge levels and beat the game? Was it fun? Did you get a feeling that you accomplished something?

Dreaded Kids Sports Example: Sigh. No matter the team the scores a point, both teams get the point. So the game is automatically a tie, even before the game starts. So ''everybody wins''.... Would you join a sports team and work out and train and play a whole season on that team with that rule?

Sure it's no fun when a character dies, but that does not make it a bad thing. In order to have the thrill of victory, you must also have the agony of defeat.


And watching the game take on a Life of It's Own is awesome. Classic example:

So the ye old lich is just about to flood the valley and kill everyone...just because he is evil, of course(this was the Good Old Days). The players struggle to stop him. It all comes down to the final battle with the lich on a cliff side over looking the valley. The paladin was very hyped up to Save the Day, and wanted first attack at the lich. So the group distracted all the minons, and gave the paladin his shot. The paladin ran over and dramatically swung his holy avenger.........and missed. With a one. And then the paladin not only dropped his holy avenger...but he also dropped it off the cliff. And finally, he also rolled a 1 to balance...and also fell off the cliff.

Now the game was very serious, but we all must have laughed for a good five minutes. The rest of the characters retreated. The lich flooded the valley.

As a result of this the player decided that ''there must be something wrong with my god to have let me fail like that'', and immediately made a cleric of that god. As a good DM I picked up on that thread. And this spawned a whole series of adventures about the fallen good god and the new demigod of necromancy. The former paladin player was very motivated to 'make things right', not just for his paladin, but all the other npc good fails he discovered. They ended up getting rid of the old good god, and helping a new one rise.....and the crowing event was when they attacked and destroyed the Flooded Valley of the Nectropolis of Tark...

So you see A Lot came out of a couple failed dice rolls. Now compare to a 'safe' game: DM:Ywan, you guys beat the lich and save the day, again. Um, what do you guys want for your next adventure?

Jay R
2012-11-13, 10:36 AM
I have occasionally had a character who "died" in one session wake up in chains in the main villain's lair. If the character's player is upset about character death, I would privately tell him this was happening, and to play an NPC until the party rescues his character (or give the PC a chance to escape on his own.

A few years back, I was play one super-heroes game, in which my Superman-based character named Hyperion had suffered a public "death". I was the only player who knew he was coming back, at some suitably climactic moment, and was temporarily playing a Bouncing Boy type named Pinball.

The party was facing a giant robot, and we just didn't have enough raw power to stop it. The DM said, "You hear a rushing of air coming from the east." I looked at him quizzically, he nodded at me, and I said, "Somebody has to say it. Pinball says it."

"Look! Up in the sky!"

Others then filled in the rest: "It's a bird! It's a plane! It's Hyperion!"

It was a very satisfactory return of the character.

ReaderAt2046
2012-11-13, 11:04 AM
I've had some weird experiences with this in an Avatar RPG i'm in.

In our third session, our DM killed off Boris III, a jovial inventor-rouge who was sort of the Heart of our party. We were chasing the BBEG down a secret tunnel when he turned and shot lightnings at us. They missed the character in the front of the line and hit Boris instead. Now, Boris didn't have very many hit points, and was already wounded from a fight the day before, so he was knocked down to -10 instantly. So Boris died, but he did go out with style. His last action was to unbuckle his mechanical arm (which was packed full of explosives) and hand it to the airbenderer saying "Make it count". So we threw it at the BBEG and blew it up right in his face. BAM!! Half the BBEG's hitpoints gone and a big scar over his face. He ran!

Now what makes this wierd is what happened a few sessions later. I'm playing a slightly psycho firebender, and when the party's newest member (the replacement for Boris) insulted my nation, my religion, my morality, and my race immediately upon meeting me, I challenged him to a duel. For some reason, this really ticked off the party assassin, who immediately tried to kill me. The assassin had optimised his build to kill benders, and I'd taken a pretty bad hit from the insulter, so I went down to negative health pretty quickly. Then an increaisngly improbable series of coincidences kept preventing the assassin from killing me, until he finally literally said, "Ok, I give up. If the spirits want him alive this badly, fine."

Alaris
2012-11-13, 03:34 PM
@ Alaris: Why did the teleport spell fail?

Circumstances of the dungeon. There was magic-eating mist everywhere. You teleport into it, it bounces you back, eating the spell.

Several of the players had other ways out. Hell, the Teleport spell would've worked had they used the area that was protected against mist (you know, 1 room over).

Needless to say, had the player who had waited to teleport, not waited... the others would've had a few rounds to figure out another exit plan.

Tvtyrant
2012-11-13, 03:42 PM
You could always make it so people only die on a coup de grace, including bad guys. Otherwise they simply pass out/slip into a coma from which they have to be magically healed. This may be a strange way of playing, but heck I have played around with having people explode in a shower of experience coins before.

hymer
2012-11-13, 03:54 PM
Depending on the system, there's still things like getting turned to stone, dropped in lava, being aboard an exploding space ship, swallowing a sphere of annihilation, etc.

awa
2012-11-14, 08:28 PM
(in regards to gamer girl)

See I disagree with this a game does not have to be lethal to be fun or even challenging. Mutants and mastermind is a popular and extremely nonlethal system. Losing and dying arenít the same thing.
Some people enjoy different play styles then you thatís not wrong of them.
In regards to having to fight the lich who drowned the valley or just go on some random adventure you seem to be confusing an interesting adventure with a lethal one these are not the same thing.

DaTedinator
2012-11-14, 09:30 PM
Alright, this is long. Like, probably too long. You've been warned.

When I first started playing Fallout: New Vegas (a post-apocalyptic survival RPG), the game just wasn't... right for me. I'm all for old-school massive fights where all the bad guys have ten thousand hit points and can get shot in the face twenty times and still be standing, but that is definitely not what I wanted out of a survival RPG.

No, what I wanted was severe, pitiless realism. So I downloaded mods until I had it.

The game shipped with a hardcore mode, requiring you to keep track of food, sleep, and water; I downloaded a mod that required me to keep track of protein, carbs, nutrients, water, BAC, sleep, diurnal cycle... all sorts of crazy stuff. Now instead of just making sure I had a pack full of snack cakes, I needed to make sure I had a balanced diet - which is hard when you're scavenging in a post-apocalyptic desert.

The game's default difficulty system gave enemies more health and had them do more damage the higher you set the difficulty. I downloaded mods that reduced everyone's health and increased everyone's damage, so that if you got shot, you'd die. The most the average person - enemy or PC - could take was maybe four, five shots, and that was only if they got really lucky, and were shot with a tiny caliber. But even with a small gun, a headshot was more or less an instant kill.

I got a few other mods - nighttime was so dark you needed a flashlight, clear sunny days were so bright it could be hard to see if the sun was in front of you, you dehydrated faster based on temperature and humidity, etc., etc.. But the end result was a brutal, gritty, desert survival sim that was loads of fun.

So I beat the game, and had a blast with it. Fun times. But like many good RPGs, New Vegas had a lot of different choices you could make that would affect how the ending played out, and eventually I decided I wanted to play through it again.

I tried, but it just... I'd beaten it before, I was good at it, I knew what I was doing, right? And because of how the difficulty was set up - how I wanted it to be - I couldn't just crank up the difficulty to make things harder. I tried playing a melee-focused character - obviously at a disadvantage in a game where one bullet can kill - but it still wasn't as much fun as my first playthrough.

Then a friend linked me to an article that gave me some advice on how to make it really hardcore.

Oh man. I thought I'd played hardcore before. I hadn't.

This time, I turned off my HUD completely. No telling how much health I had in the middle of combat, no telling if that guy down the road is friendly or waiting to kill me, no telling how much ammo I have left (I just have to count my shots). I also didn't let myself use VATS (the game's auto-targeting system); now I had to actually have all the accuracy, and not just put points in the skill.

A huge factor: with no HUD, there was no radar. People would start shooting t me, and I'd have no idea where it was coming from. I just had to duck for cover, and hope my cover blocked the bullets.

But the biggest change I made: Permadeath (and no, you know, quicksaves and whatnot). Holy crap, that changed everything.

Before, when I'd get in a fight, I'd be tense; with how lethal combat was, I had to be on my game or else. Now? If I even thought a fight was coming, I got stressed. Like, if I was on a mission that required me to clear a building? I'd crawl through at a snail's pace, double-checking every corner, and placing mines behind me as I went in case anyone snuck up on me.

And if someone did sneak up on me? I'd just about crap my pants. Nothing was worse than wandering through apparently empty plains, and suddenly hearing a gunshot. Was it aimed at me? Where did it come from? Who's shooting? How many of them are there? I'd spin around in quick circles, crouch down, and pray that I was able to see them before they shot again. Sometimes, I would. Other times, the ambush would work, and I'd die.

I died a lot. And each time, I started the whole friggin' game over again. It was miserable... and awesome.

Now, I actually had to make real choices. Like, if some NPC asked me to save their town from bandits? Before, I'd be all over that; XP and loot ahoy! Now, I had to think. Could I take them? How many of them were there? Would I find more ammo than it took to kill them all? What was the area like - was there anywhere I could hide, any good cover? What sort of weapons should I take - would the fights be indoors, or over long spaces?

I had to calculate all that in my head, and then decide if the risk was worth it to my character. Was my character the type of guy who'd save the town?

Oh, and powerful enemies? Like, guys in full suits of power armor, with energy weapons? Before, they were great, sort of annoying challenges. They took work to kill, but they were super worth it for the loot. Now, they were the apparitions of terror that the fluff of the game implied; if I saw a guy in power armor, I didn't wait to see if he was an enemy, I just ran. I'd abandon missions to avoid those guys.

Plus, there were all sorts of tactics that I suddenly appreciated. I'd never used mines before, because it was always just faster to shoot people. As mentioned above, though, now, I loved them. They let me kill people without putting myself at risk. I'd lay them behind me to cover my back, lay them in front of me before getting in a shootout in case the other guy charged... I couldn't get enough of them, and they saved my hide many, many times.

There were definite frustrations. Ambushes being the biggest one. My number one cause of death was suddenly getting shot by some guy who rounded a bend I hadn't laid a mine at. There's still a death or two that I have no idea what caused it; I just suddenly dropped dead from a headshot.

But because of that risk, the high points were so much higher. I remember one time, when I'd died too quickly too frequently, and just got fed up. I snapped, grabbed a shotgun, and just started clearing a group of bandits holed up in an abandoned building. And I felt awesome. I didn't sneak, didn't creep, just walked around casually, blowing everybody that I saw away. Before, I might've thought that made a cool image, but now, because I knew that I was putting myself at risk and rocking the place anyway? I felt so awesome.

And when I finally managed to get my own suit of power armor? I was the unstoppable behemoth I was supposed to be. Legions fell before me, and it was all the more awesome because I'd once had to run in terror from what I had now become.

TL;DR: You can start here

That's what the real risk of death does for a game. It's true, sometimes things suck, like just really, really suck. Nothing's worse than putting hours, days, sometimes years of work into a character, and then losing him to a short series of bad luck. But it's that very risk that forces you to act in character. It's easy for a hero to be a hero if he knows the DM is going to fudge things to make sure he gets out alive. It's a lot harder for the hero to face the lich if he knows there's very little chance he'll make it out alive, or even manage to take the lich down with him.

And those rare moments, when everything is aligned against you, but you manage to kill the lich, save the city, and get away safe? Those moments make it worth it.

Tengu_temp
2012-11-14, 09:37 PM
(in regards to gamer girl)

See I disagree with this a game does not have to be lethal to be fun or even challenging. Mutants and mastermind is a popular and extremely nonlethal system. Losing and dying arenít the same thing.
Some people enjoy different play styles then you thatís not wrong of them.
In regards to having to fight the lich who drowned the valley or just go on some random adventure you seem to be confusing an interesting adventure with a lethal one these are not the same thing.
{scrubbed}

Kelb_Panthera
2012-11-14, 09:45 PM
@datedinator: Wow. That's well and truly hardcore.

I think that'd be a bit more realism than I'd care for in a video game. Just..... wow.

awa
2012-11-14, 10:00 PM
personaly i think id find that really tedius/ frusterating

NichG
2012-11-14, 11:01 PM
And this is why its really important to know your players' tastes. Throw a game like DaTedinator built at a group of players and some will have a blast while others will walk out in disgust. Even moreso, players can be more ready to accept that kind of difficulty if the game is designed to be kind of a throwaway thing, while for a more involved campaign with more investment there will be fewer and fewer people you'll find willing to go for quite such a rough thing.

Occasionally I'll run something which I advertise as 'this is basically an old-school dungeon crawl' in 2ed or 1ed D&D. Because people know the reputation of those systems as being super-lethal (which is mostly at low levels mind you), so they have the right expectations coming in. If the dungeon crawl ends in a TPK thats how it goes. But those are usually just quick 1-3 session things to sort of get a feel of that sort of game before going back to something else for me and my group. And some of my players just bow out entirely when I'm running something like that, but since I'm clear about what its going to be like then it generally works out.

willpell
2012-11-14, 11:10 PM
This sounds like a player after my own heart. IMO, you shouldn't require him to accept lethal consequences if he's uncomfortable with them. If he's okay with the mild ridiculousness of his game being about as lethal as a Saturday morning cartoon, so be it. If the other players aren't cool with that, let some adventures focus on him and be nonlethal while others largely de-emphasize him, and have occasional fatalities but with attackers largely avoiding him and any NPCs he's strongly attached to.

Also don't neglect to play up how getting captured can be scarier than dying. Death can be "ho hum, another True Resurrection", while having something like a mind flayer hold you prisoner, and other prisoners describing the heinous tortures they've endured (all with no real sense of immediacy, so it's not so much a threat as a creeping dread - nothing might happen for years, but the shadow will loom over you that whole time because you can't control your fate, and that's scary in itself), can do a lot to make the player recognize how death can be preferable to some of the alternatives. On the flipside, show a heroic paladin or something who makes it clear that he's willing to martyr himself for a sufficiently important cause, and eventually does so, but only once the player has shown clearly that he understands.

Darth Xena
2012-11-14, 11:30 PM
See I disagree with this a game does not have to be lethal to be fun or even challenging.

I just don't get that. How is it fun to have an immortal character? How is it not like playing a video game on 'immortal mode'?




Mutants and mastermind is a popular and extremely nonlethal system.

So how exactly does the game work? You make a character right? And a GM makes an adventure? And the game has some sort of conflict and challenge, right? You have to do 'something', right? And the something needs to be pass or fail, right? So how does a game where you can't fail work? Does combat(does the game even have combat?) just 'knock a character down'?

Slipperychicken
2012-11-14, 11:40 PM
There is nothing heroic or cunning about being a paranoid little coward who overprepares for every situation.

ďVictorious warriors win first and then go to war, while defeated warriors go to war first and then seek to win.Ē


This isn't dating, it's war; losing means innocent people die (or Baron Von Evil takes over the kingdom, or everyone you love gets eaten by Cthulhu, or whatever), and often enough you only get one chance. There is nothing heroic or cunning about getting your squad killed by your incompetence, either. Taking the best road to victory is practically the definition of cunning.

Win the battle, then get some Bards and Historians to sing about how awesome you are, and exaggerate the story so you look heroic. If you don't prepare, you deserve to lose. Also, it's not paranoia if someone half the universe really is out to get you.

ThiagoMartell
2012-11-14, 11:43 PM
I just don't get that. How is it fun to have an immortal character? How is it not like playing a video game on 'immortal mode'?
Some people like playing in god mode.
For some games, I'd much rather have it easier than harder. For example, I always play Neverwinter Nights on the harder difficulty setting possible, because that's closer to D&D. That's what I want from the game - D&D feel and cool graphics. I could do the same with Dragon Age, because what I want from the game is it being gritty and deadly.
If I'm playing Bayonetta or Devil May Cry, you can bet my first run is going to be on a low difficulty level. I want to see all options, all the cool moves Dante and Bayonetta can do, and most of them suck in higher difficulties. I want to explore the weapons, I want to see the cutscenes, I want to see everything and if it's hard many of the stuff I could do... well, it can't be done. Then I would turn to a harder difficulty setting and enjoy other aspects of the game.


So how exactly does the game work? You make a character right? And a GM makes an adventure? And the game has some sort of conflict and challenge, right? You have to do 'something', right? And the something needs to be pass or fail, right? So how does a game where you can't fail work? Does combat(does the game even have combat?) just 'knock a character down'?
Failing is very, very different from dying. You fail a lot more in M&M than you do in D&D. In fact, failing is what gives you fuel to eventually succeed where it matters. That's just how superhero stories go - villain shows up, heroes can't defeat him because of X, heroes try to figure out a way to defeat the villain, heroes fight the villain, heroes win.
More narrative focused games, such as Anima Prime, have very different rules for death. You don't die because you took X damage. You fall to the ground, defeated and injured, and it could take a while for you to be on top shape, but you only die when you want it. Any player can choose to sacrifice his character to achieve something - for example, a final rush where you kill the bad guy.
Bliss Stage has similar mechanics, where a character death is determined by the system but whenever it does happen, you choose how it happens and it's always meaningful to the story.
It's just different playstyles. Character death happening all the time is more common in RPGs that more gamist, while it not happening is more common in RPGs that are more narrativist. Each side works and I'm a fan of both when used right.



This isn't dating, it's war; losing means innocent people die (or Baron Von Evil takes over the kingdom, or everyone you love gets eaten by Cthulhu, or whatever). There is nothing heroic or cunning about getting your squad killed by your incompetence, either. Taking the best road to victory is practically the definition of cunning.
And realistic is very different from heroic. If you want to feel like a hero, you should charge through the battlefield tossing does to each side, you should win despite the odds being against you and all. That's what a heroic game means, a game where you get to be a hero all the time, not one where you could be a hero if X happens.



Win the battle, then get some Bards and Historians to sing about how awesome you are, and exaggerate the story so you look heroic. If you don't prepare, you deserve to lose. Also, it's not paranoia if someone half the universe really is out to get you.
See, this is is what I'm talking about. That might be realistic and make sense, but that's not what a heroic game should aim for. It's not about looking heroic, it's about actually being a hero.
I'm not saying realistic gritty games are bad - I love those, at times! But you seem to be dismissing actual heroic games, while they are pretty much a thing and they are very fun, as well.
For every Trail of Chtulhu you have one Anima Prime, for every Godlike you have one Mutants & Masterminds, for every GURPS you get one 3D&T. They are not bad. Just different.

Tengu_temp
2012-11-14, 11:59 PM
ThiagoMartell already made the points I wanted to make, so I will say something else:

Many people compare playing very lethal tabletop games to playing very hard video games. However, there is one crucial difference: if you die in a video game, in most cases you can just load the game from a previous save and try again. Not so much in a tabletop game: if you die here, it's the end, time to make a new character. This creates a very different situation - I wouldn't mind playing with a DM who lets me "load" the game if my character dies, but a very lethal game where a single mistake or just a bad roll means your character is gone is simply not my cup of tea.

TuggyNE
2012-11-15, 12:04 AM
I just don't get that. How is it fun to have an immortal character? How is it not like playing a video game on 'immortal mode'?

That's an oversimplification. There is really a very broad spectrum between "you die if you don't do everything just so, or if you happen to be unlucky, or ..." and "you never die or have any chance to fail". For example, switching out of RPGs for a moment, you can have a game where you have a number of lives; running out of all of them means you lose, but any loss can be a problem and lessen your score. Back to RPGs, you can have games where death is frequent and final (generally, characters are a thin mask for their players, easily discarded), where death is occasional or reversible, where death is very rare, or where death is essentially unknown. As has been stated, that doesn't mean it's easy mode, it just means the penalties for messing up are different, usually more fluff-oriented, but not always. (NPCs can usually still die, drastically change their attitudes, suffer changes in circumstance, and so on; kingdoms can rise or fall, artifacts be destroyed or preserved or used, etc.)

Basically, death is not the only way to make a character powerless, and it's not the only available consequence for player error either.

Edit:
Many people compare playing very lethal tabletop games to playing very hard video games. However, there is one crucial difference: if you die in a video game, in most cases you can just load the game from a previous save and try again. Not so much in a tabletop game: if you die here, it's the end, time to make a new character. This creates a very different situation - I wouldn't mind playing with a DM who lets me "load" the game if my character dies, but a very lethal game where a single mistake or just a bad roll means your character is gone is simply not my cup of tea.

There's one major group of exceptions that I can think of: one of the defining features of roguelikes is that savegames cannot be used to recover from death (they're generally overwritten immediately). I've tried several different roguelikes, but permadeath and the generally nigh-arbitrary deaths (or, at least, deaths with no very obvious way to avoid them) have always driven me away. This is probably because it's impossible to actually succeed in a roguelike in any real sense until you've failed dozens, hundreds, or even thousands of times, and each time you lose all your progress.

I suppose that's really another equally important thing to consider; not only how a game handles failure, but how it handles (partial) success. Sure, if you pride yourself on stoicism or perseverance or stubbornness, it may be enough to have a single reward after thousands of hours of playtime, but for most people that's just not very fun (and they'll never reach that).

Kelb_Panthera
2012-11-15, 12:29 AM
@Darth Xena: There's a difference between dying and failure. Dying often is a means to failure, but not every failure is a result of death. In a system like D&D the connection between the two is even more tenuous than normal, since death can be -very- inpermanent in that system.

To fail is to not succeed. If you didn't get there in time to stop the cult's ritual from summoning its dark god you've failed. If you let the princess get eaten by the dragon you've failed. You didn't die in either of those cases, but you've failed nonetheless. You -may- have the opportunity to set aright your failure, but you did fail.

If, on the other hand, you got turned into hamburger during a battle and the party cleric hits what's left with a res spell and you go on to stop the cult and slay the dragon death was just an inconvenience, not a failure at all. If you carve the princess' remains from the belly of the slain wyrm and bring that back to life, you've only partially failed. (Good luck convincing the king you still deserve a full reward after his daughter went through the trauma of being a meal.)

Failure comes in degrees and if death is inpermanent it's maybe just a degree of failure and maybe it's just an inconvenience.

If death is permanent, then it's definitely a failure, but it's not the only way to fail.

All that said, I still think that removing the chance for death, no matter how much or how little permanence it has, reduces the dramatic value of combat.

If you weren't willing to put your life on the line, why the devil did you get into a combat situation at all? Why didn't you surrender? Why didn't you flee? If combat's a thing, and it's not a modern or post-modern setting, then making combat completely non-lethal just doesn't make sense. Often it doesn't even make sense in those settings.

BootStrapTommy
2012-11-15, 04:41 AM
Kill his character. Nothing gets you over character death faster than having your character die.

Kalmarvho
2012-11-15, 05:16 AM
I just don't get that. How is it fun to have an immortal character? How is it not like playing a video game on 'immortal mode'?

There are systems (such as, say, Dogs in the Vineyard) where the consequences of a conflict can be entertaining and far-reaching even if no-one died - or hell, even if no one even pulled a knife and stuck with jawing. Narrative-focused games tend to only kill people when it's dramatically appropriate - if the player decides that character's story is over - rather than because they accidentally touched a Sphere of Annihilation.

It's really just a difference of goals - the difference between, let's say, a dungeon crawler, where characters are expected to die (and ignominiously at that) or get phat loot, and a storytelling system, where characters are placed into situations to specifically allow for roleplaying decisions that are interesting to everyone involved.

The problem is when a player who is expecting the latter has a DM/GM who is running the former. People will get because of that difference of expectations.

Slipperychicken
2012-11-15, 08:44 PM
(Good luck convincing the king you still deserve a full reward after his daughter went through the trauma of being a meal.)


"We will return her to you upon full payment of the bounty as agreed. If we do not receive full compensation within one hour, we cannot be held responsible for her health or well-being. It would be a shame to have come all this way, just to see her fall into the wrong hands. On an unrelated note, I hear royalty fetch quite a sum in the lower planes."

Kaun
2012-11-15, 09:11 PM
"Live by the sword..."

If he is so worried about death tell him not to get into situations where is his character won't die.

PJ Garrison
2012-11-16, 12:12 AM
I suppose I lean to the hardcore side of this issue.

I've found that people generally tend to get more worked up over character death when the character creation process is long and difficult. 3E D&D characters, in particular, are labor intensive, and it's really annoying to put a bunch of time into a character, only to have that guy eat it in the first adventure.

On the other hand, if character creation is easy (as is the case in basic D&D), it's much faster to get back in the game if you die. 10-15 minutes and you're ready to go.

Because basic D&D and AD&D are so lethal at low levels, there is a tendency to not get attached to them until they've gotten a few levels under their belt. Old-School players had to get smart FAST to keep their players alive. And this, I think, leads to really creative play and a sense of danger and excitement.

When you do finally get a few levels under your belt, you can breath a sigh of relief that you've passed the most dangerous levels.

In most cases, those characters have little to no backstory, because it's a hassle to invest emotionally in a fragile character. Thus, the old-school mindset that a character doesn't need a backstory because the real story is is his survival against the dangers he's faced thus far.

In comparison, labor intensive character creation systems create a situation where neither the DM or players want to lose a character because it's such a pain in the ass to make up new ones. Players also tend to give those characters a convoluted backstory to compliment the "unique snowflake" that they've created.

So the games tend to be easier, and give players more leeway with death and danger. Death, when it does come, tends to be a real shock because you've gotten out of the habit of expecting it.

Personally, I lean toward the simpler char-gen systems and more dangerous dungeons. However, I try not to make my arbitrarily lethal. I dislike save-or-die, energy drains, and super-lethal monsters like yellow mold.

I try to create adventures where the characters can think their way out of danger. Optimally, they die because they did something stupid, not because of a random roll. Still combat can be dangerous, so I let the characters go down to -10 HP before they die.

But death, when it happens, is final. There are no Raise Dead spells or Resurrections to be had. If they're VERY lucky they might be able to find a way to cheat death, but it's not a matter of wandering down to the local church with a bagful of gold.

I think this is an optimal mix... not so dangerous to be frustrating, but still dangerous enough to encourage caution on the part of players, and give them a real sense of accomplishment when they do succeed at cheating death for one more day.

Kelb_Panthera
2012-11-16, 01:19 AM
"We will return her to you upon full payment of the bounty as agreed. If we do not receive full compensation within one hour, we cannot be held responsible for her health or well-being. It would be a shame to have come all this way, just to see her fall into the wrong hands. On an unrelated note, I hear royalty fetch quite a sum in the lower planes."

That's an option if the consequences are acceptable.

Personally, I think that while the xp from slaughtering the royal guard on the way out might be nice, being declared an outlaw to the kingdom and having as steep a bounty placed on my head as the crown can afford might be more than a little inconvenient. Seperating a few adventurers from one another's company so you can pick them off one at a time is dramatically easier than taking down a dragon in his lair, to boot.

Stubbazubba
2012-11-16, 01:48 AM
This is completely a problem of misaligned expectations.

Just look at the expressions in this thread: Why is he adventuring if he's afraid of dying, etc., etc., points to the same expectations problem.

He expects the game to play like an adventure story; the characters believe themselves to be in mortal peril, but the audience knows they rarely are. He wants to do cool stuff and help the party rescue the princess, and that is meaningful and cool to him. Mere survival is boring, one-dimensional, and ultimately not worth the time he has put in to achieve.

You expect the game to play like a combat game; the characters believe themselves to be in mortal peril because they are. This isn't pro wrestling, this is fighting for your life, and the dice can't always love you. You have to out-smart the opposite them, not out-fight the monsters. Death is always on the table because that gives every victory its sweetness.

Those are both meaningful playstyles and perfectly defensible positions. They just don't play nice together.

To relate this to a dangerously political issue, it's like welfare reform; some people would say losing a job is miserable enough, you don't need to remove the safety net, and doing so would be a gross violation of ethics. Others say people strive harder to remain employed or gain employment if there's a less cushy safety net, and that it's anemic to a healthy economy to let people languish unemployed like that (especially on someone else's dime).

These both have a complete internal logic based on different metrics. Those metrics don't line up next to each other, but that doesn't make either less valid than the other.

Saintheart
2012-11-16, 01:52 AM
Explain to him that with sufficient diamonds and levels on a pliable cleric that death is but a speedbump to all bar outsiders. :smallcool: :smallbiggrin:

Jerthanis
2012-11-16, 02:54 AM
That's what the real risk of death does for a game. It's true, sometimes things suck, like just really, really suck. Nothing's worse than putting hours, days, sometimes years of work into a character, and then losing him to a short series of bad luck. But it's that very risk that forces you to act in character. It's easy for a hero to be a hero if he knows the DM is going to fudge things to make sure he gets out alive. It's a lot harder for the hero to face the lich if he knows there's very little chance he'll make it out alive, or even manage to take the lich down with him.

And those rare moments, when everything is aligned against you, but you manage to kill the lich, save the city, and get away safe? Those moments make it worth it.

See though, having read your post, my first thought was, "Wow, you've got more time on your hands than I do". Moving on, and thinking of your post now and then over the intervening time, I realize that if this is the attitude you apply also to RPGs, I have far less time left in my life than you must.

See, I played Fallout: New Vegas and I absorbed the plot and interacted with the characters and I explored the environments and solved pretty much every quest and if I had to guess, it took me 15 hours on the outside. Now, if I had played it the way you describe, it might have taken as much as 10 times as long. Heck, 50 times as long wouldn't be outrageous.

And you know what? At 15 hours of investment, I think the ending sucked (still less than Fallout 3's ending though). I can only imagine what I would have felt after 750 hours, where I got to relive the intriguing stages of the plot again and again, building up in my mind what the payoff was finally going to be. Then... I'd win. And that was it. Just... that ending. I would find myself filled with an emptiness... all that effort, all those frustrations, all the risk, all the learning of exactly which skills are still useful and which don't do anything anymore, how to achieve levels, where is the earliest place I can find a Chinese Assault Rifle at the lowest risk... and then that's all I get for it.

Great, whatever, so I'm really good at Fallout: New Vegas now. But I could have moved on, experienced the characters and story of two dozen other games or books in the time I took. And now I'm never going to want to play it again, because... I already tried every possible combination of actions and characters just trying to get a successful character the one time it counts.

Am I playing the game to experience the story, or am I playing AGAINST the game to earn the story? If I DO play against the game to earn the story, and the story is unsatisfying, doesn't that kind of... suck even more?

TuggyNE
2012-11-16, 03:51 AM
Am I playing the game to experience the story, or am I playing AGAINST the game to earn the story? If I DO play against the game to earn the story, and the story is unsatisfying, doesn't that kind of... suck even more?

Some people (I am not one of them) would probably consider that the mere fact of having beaten the game at such difficulty is enough of a reward. At least, that's the only reason I can give for the existence of roguelikes (as I've alluded to earlier), which are programmed deliberately to extend that to its logical conclusion. There is almost no story, no graphics, no impressive gameplay, just a complex combat system, unlabeled magic items, and lots and lots and lots of brutal monsters and traps that will kill you if you make a mistake or get unlucky in combat or guess wrong or didn't manage to pick up a particular item earlier. And a single artifact at the end that you're trying to get, and then all the same monsters all over again on the way up.

Different strokes for different folks. *shrug*

hymer
2012-11-16, 04:41 AM
@ Jerthanis: If DaTedinator plays a game in a way that takes him ten times as long, it need not mean he spends more time playing than you do. It may just mean he spends 1/10 of the money on games you do.
If I buy a game and spend a measly 15 hours on it, I feel absolutely ripped off.
Aside from that, what tuggyne said.

Jerthanis
2012-11-16, 11:16 AM
@ Jerthanis: If DaTedinator plays a game in a way that takes him ten times as long, it need not mean he spends more time playing than you do. It may just mean he spends 1/10 of the money on games you do.
If I buy a game and spend a measly 15 hours on it, I feel absolutely ripped off.
Aside from that, what tuggyne said.

I primarily use rentals, and only buy games I know I'll play for decades, and then only when their prices drop to 30 dollars or less. I own 7 games for the current console gaming generation, and 4 of them were gifts.

Don't get me wrong, I play video games on Hard the first time I put them in, and have gotten to the end of Demon's Souls and Dark Souls. I play games this way because I learn more about the way the game is played. However, I'm merely talking about the way this can impact a story with unsatisfactory payoffs, which is a set that includes many RPGs on the tabletop as well as in videogames.

White_Drake
2012-11-16, 05:27 PM
Because basic D&D and AD&D are so lethal at low levels, there is a tendency to not get attached to them until they've gotten a few levels under their belt. Old-School players had to get smart FAST to keep their players alive. And this, I think, leads to really creative play and a sense of danger and excitement.


To keep their players alive? Jesus, those guys were freakin' hardcore.

At any rate, we don't bother with a character sheet until around third level, so I prefer a higher lethality game. Taking huge risks for huge payoffs is just so much sweeter when there is a very real chance I'll wind up a grease smear on the dungeon floor.

Of course, I'm a bit reckless; I've got a whole folder of back-ups ready in case a character bites it. :smallbiggrin:

Kelb_Panthera
2012-11-16, 11:03 PM
I'm feeling a bit mean tonight, so I'm going to make this suggestion; maim him.

Being crippled can be so much worse than being killed, at least in the short-term and for adventuring purposes. Just keep making it worse until he wants you to kill his character. Ideally the situation should end with something like this:

":smallfurious: Okay, first that owlbear managed to bite my arm off, and I went with it. Then that ooze managed to disolve my leg, so I got a peg-leg replacement and we coninued. Then an otyugh managed to snap my spine, and the party fighter strapped me to his back to carry my through the remainder of the dungeon, but I didn't say anything. Now you've had a darkmantle remove one of my eyes!? :smallfurious: Why don't you just kill me already?!" to which you reply with the most innocent look you can muster "but you said having your character killed would bother you? :smallamused:"

:belkar:

Do note that the above is just about the biggest d-bag move you can pull; but like I said, I'm feeling mean tonight.

Alaris
2012-11-16, 11:22 PM
Huh... in retrospect, I agree with many people in this thread.

The best way for his character to not die is for him to not adventure. Plain and simple.

awa
2012-11-17, 09:49 AM
see making up rules to cripple their charecter is likely just to make them quite the game.

PersonMan
2012-11-17, 04:41 PM
No, what I wanted was severe, pitiless realism. So I downloaded mods until I had it.

[...]

I got a few other mods - nighttime was so dark you needed a flashlight, clear sunny days were so bright it could be hard to see if the sun was in front of you, you dehydrated faster based on temperature and humidity, etc., etc.

Just a little thing, but the bolded part really annoys me in games. I always wonder if the developers actually ever go outside at night. From inside, with lights on, it looks like impermeable darkness, but it really isn't.

Normally at night you can see. Not especially well, but enough to realize that there's a wall here, a rock there and no, you aren't just walking into a cliff because it's pitch black. On a moonless/very cloudy night, yes, it does get all but impossible to see. In a desert, I doubt you have cloud-covered skies that often. So, for the most part, you can see at night.

With this knowledge, it's always annoying to me that video games give characters "indoor vision" i.e. their eyes are defective and never adjust to the degree of light in a place. Something is either blindingly bright, impossibly dark or just right.

Also, in response to the "invincible mode is unfulfilling" thing: This has been said before, but it is often fun. Sure, it's not the same as just playing the game, but that's like saying that cake makes terrible salad. If I want salad, do you think I'm going to be eating cake? (I certainly hope you say no here.) If I want cake and I have a salad-to-cake converter, I will make my salad a cake. I don't care if that ruins the salad - I want cake.

Running around being immortal is hilariously fun in a way an epic story isn't. An epic story is awesome in a way running around being immortal isn't. Cake is delicious in a way salad cannot be. Salad is great in ways cake cannot hope to match.

Morithias
2012-11-17, 04:46 PM
Snip

Thank a lot man. Now I want cake....you can keep the salad.

Grr...hungry now.

PersonMan
2012-11-17, 05:44 PM
Thank a lot man. Now I want cake....you can keep the salad.

Grr...hungry now.

I live to serve invoke hunger in other people for things they do not currently have.

Slipperychicken
2012-11-17, 09:41 PM
":smallfurious: Okay, first that owlbear managed to bite my arm off, and I went with it. Then that ooze managed to dissolve my leg, so I got a peg-leg replacement and we continued. Then an otyugh managed to snap my spine, and the party fighter strapped me to his back to carry my through the remainder of the dungeon, but I didn't say anything.


[spelling corrections mine]

This sounds like the manliest rant in the universe. Definitely fitting for a paraplegic mentor NPC with only one arm and one leg. The NPC who would say this must be the most epic friendly in the game...

Esprit15
2012-11-18, 01:54 PM
I apparently am of that crazy middle ground between "MORE BLOOD FOR THE BLOOD GODS!" and "Don't touch my special snowflake!"

Single rolls, especially anything that is Save or Die as described, is a pain for anyone who puts work into their character, or has over the course of a game become attached to their character. At the same time, doing stupid stuff does need a consequence, depending on the stupidity. In a TR based PTTA game, first round of it didn't last a month (it was PbP). Two of us ended up killing two kids over losing a battle. We then panic about what to do, and try to misdirect authorities and their mother from us while we flee. Not to mention our actual recruitment job going very poorly (time of it got bumped up due to panic). One very loud fight in a residential area later, we scramble back to TR.

The characters get killed. My main gripe with it wasn't that we were killed. I totally agree that we screwed up majorly. The problem I had was that it was simply "You are grabbed and shot in the head." When there is no way for the player to even feel that their actions matter (even if the fight is stacked against them), it cheapens the game.

As for the "Don't kill my PC!" he has to get over that. Crit happens. As well, even though I personally wouldn't make a habit of it, he does have to learn that sometimes PC's die. The trick, as some others have said, is to not let your character die for stupid, easily preventable things. The solution is to kill his character, but give him the opportunity to let it have a reason behind it. After that, he should slowly become more open to the idea of PC's dying.

Slipperychicken
2012-11-18, 02:55 PM
When there is no way for the player to even feel that their actions matter (even if the fight is stacked against them), it cheapens the game.


This. You need to let the PC have the ability to affect the outcome. Let there be choices, even if they aren't all very attractive. Let there be some kind of escape route so he can run away and save himself, some clear choice which he could have made to decrease his chance of dying.

It has to be fair. You send an appropriate challenge, and let the dice fall where they will. And don't fudge in anyone's favor. If that means someone important (like a PC) gets gibbed, that's a part of the game. You want to charge into a hole in the ground and risk your life 4 times a day? Well, you're going to get yourself killed someday, there's no sugar-coating that. If you fudge it, your players will quickly get bored -they'll know you won't let them die. There won't be any real risk, so the reward won't be very exciting either.

If the players know they can't lose, they won't have much fun. The best way you can avoid this is to let them lose, let them die. Let it happen, but let them save themselves too (provided they come up with a good enough, realistic plan, and succeed on all necessary rolls), but don't force it either way.

oxybe
2012-11-18, 03:36 PM
I'll try to give my position first, before my opinion.

I game once a week. real life normally steps every so often and the GM/his kid is sick and he can't make it, sometimes he needs to work late, sometimes family visits... you know... real life.

that's understandable.

now, when we do game, it's normally from 7-7:30pm to about 10-10:30pm. not a long session by any standards, but we're rather good at getting things done when we've got our stride going.

now, where am i going with all this?

in a month of gameplay, that means we get about 12-15ish hours of RP under our belt. in a rogue-like videogame where death is handed out like cheap candy on halloween, i don't expect my character to last 12-15 hours or a game to last a month. hell, with my luck 2 hours in a rogue-like is good. in any normal videogame, 12-15 hours is more then enough time to grow attached to your character, especially in a medium that's generally more slower paced, like an TTRPG.

there's also the fact that i can't play rogue-likes for prolonged periods of time... it's just not a style i can sit down an enjoy constantly. i like them to some extent, but it's a "sometimes game" to be sure.

to be told "spend a month playing this game and investing 15+ hours only to start over" would be a good way to get me to stop playing the game for months on end, if not forever. not to say there aren't "sortof" exceptions.

and note that i've only stated actual gameplay hours. depending on what i want to do from one session to the next, i might be very well spending out of game time researching a topic in real life and doing some back-and-forth between the gm and other players. a few weeks ago i did a few extra hours of research on the breeding of centipedes and lots of back & forth with the gm because of in-game events and things i was planning on doing, but didn't want to immediately invest in-game time in: items i wanted to use but asked for his a rulings before i start buying it in bulk and spells that looked useful, if a bit borked and how we might make them work without having me surprise this on him at an inopportune time, and even the fixes we did make are provisional in nature as nothing survives contact with the campaign.

now i'm going to give a videogame example: i like starting new worlds in minecraft, for example, but that's because i'm often trying out new mods and blank slate worlds tend to lag far less then the monstrosities i leave behind. even within a single modpack, like tekkit, i've got like 4 worlds where i simply try different stuff out: one where i focus heavily on EquivalentExchange, one where i use lots of Redpower, one where i Buildcraft/industrial craft heavily, and often mix/match some of the other tech into it. but because i don't have any real attachment to those worlds that i can leave them behind and bring that knowledge into the next.

everyone of them is an experiment with the end goal of "once i've learned what i can, i will leave this". i then apply what i've learned "in the wild", specifically on servers with other people. the ability to quickly gather resources and to build neat things is something i like, and a giant rube golberg-esque machine in minecraft is fun.

leaving a server you've grown attached to or having it crash for good? that hurts far more then those testbed worlds as you've built things with your friends and it holds a few memories: that town you built on a chasm after mining it for ores? gone. those close calls in the caves you explored? gone.

now, do note that in a TTRPG the act of experimenting with a previous character and bringing what you've learned onto the next tends to be frowned upon and called "metagaming", as taking knowledge and information learned from one character and applying it without context onto another character.

but the less i'm supposed to be attached to my characters & the more "trial by error" is encouraged, the more clinical i get. it's less a character and more "how much can i learn and destruction can i cause before my time runs out", mainly because i don't care. i'm not invested.

now, does that mean that death has no place in a game? no, it does, but like with all things, a caveat.

while i tend to prefer games where death/perma-death is less frequent, that's just personal preference. there are many genres where that is the norm and should be expected, where one character's life can be easily taken away.

but simply saying "well if you don't want to die, don't adventure" means you've missed the point, IMO as you're failing to take everything into context.

think of how many genres out there exist where there is an adventure of sorts, or at the very least dangerous situations where the hero goes up against dangerous enemy forces.

in all of them, do you really expect the heroes to die at the drop of a hat? i'll use an example: one blog i've been keeping up on is called "Cinnamon Bunzuh". it was reviewing the old Animorphs series in a rather tongue-and-cheek manner, getting more then a few laughs from me as it's a series i remember from my childhood (i used it and the goosebumps series as light reads to practice english, my second language. it was enjoyable practice as it was not a difficult read but overall entertaining at that age) and they just finished the last book in the series, where SPOILERS: important named characters die.

note that for the most part of the 54 main series books, the heroes are fighting what seems to be a losing war. they're winning skirmishes, but the overall war doesn't seem to be going their way. up until the end, nowhere did i actually expect the book to go "...and then Tobias gets shot by some jerk with a gun and stuffed on a mantle. Also, Marco crashes his dad's truck and splits his skull because it's established he's a horrible driver who hates trash cans".

just because they're on an adventure doesn't mean you have to expect the heroes to die at a moment's notice. And just because you don't expect them to die, doesn't mean they'll always succeed. the 'morphs have had several setbacks and failed missions, causing them to run with their tails between their legs.

but to say "if you don't want to die, don't adventure"? it's just not something i care for as it doesn't fit all genres. it definitely fits some, but all? no.

that's an expectation that the GM needs to make clear at the onset of the game. to expect all players to want to play a game where a character's life hangs on what amounts to a coinflip is simply not true. at least, not with me.

now, does that mean i want to play on godmode/autowin? as a said, i like failure to be an option. i just don't want failure to always = death.

i find that TTRPG session where the only way to fail is through death to be boring. heroes can fail. a god or demigod can fail. i mean, look at hercules: he's had his fair share of failures and setbacks in life and he's a rather powerful chap, i'd say.

i've also had the most fun playing characters who had things to protect other then their life and gear. PCs who've grown attached to a town, a mentor, friends, a group, etc... and work to protect those things they value and see them grow. were these characters strong? yes. but their fun was that they had ties to the setting and challenged in ways that wasn't just life/death.

it's one of the reasons i just can't get into TTRPGs with quick, random deaths: if it takes a month for us to finish a single quest, i've probably grown attached to the character, not just because of playing in-game, but thinking about what i'm going to do between sessions as well as some back & forth with the other players & the gm. if i'm going to be attached to something, it's because i want to see how it develops. quick death often means little chance of development, IME, so i simply do not get attached and eventually get bored.

the side note is that it can also be frustrating to be killed halfway into a session and have no logical place to bring in a replacement character or a revive. being told "sorry, you need to wait another week before you can play" is kind of a pain. it's bad enough having to wait a few minutes to respawn in some FPS games. Imagine a respawn time of a week.

man, this is far longer then i expected it to be. i really hope this doesn't feel like the long ramble it is. i've tried to do some formatting so my train of though flows a bit better but...

just my 2cp.

awa
2012-11-18, 03:45 PM
Iíve said it once ill say it again losing and death arenít the same thing. In my experience high death rate particularly when its arbitrary causes people to lose interest much faster then wining difficult but nonlethal fights.

Some people want to play a cinematic game where the only deaths occurs at plot important moments. Look at fantasy books/ movies/ comics how often does the hero die because some random mook got a lucky crit. Some people want to play a gritty war story where anyone can die at an time others want to go on a epic adventure neither is wrong and im honestly sick of people telling me it is.

DaTedinator
2012-11-18, 09:12 PM
snip

Oh, yeah, I should have specified that the method of extreme realism that I described is not the only way to play a game, nor is it always (or even usually) the most fun. I was responding specifically to the question in the OP, "Why do you put so much effort into the game if one single bad roll can kill weeks of efforts?"

The purpose of my post was absolutely not to say that extreme risk of death is the best way to play. The purpose of my post was to demonstrate that there can be a lot of value in the risk of death. I guess I should've made that clearer.


Just a little thing, but the bolded part really annoys me in games. I always wonder if the developers actually ever go outside at night. From inside, with lights on, it looks like impermeable darkness, but it really isn't.

Yeah, I hate the same thing. But since it was all mods, I got to choose the exact brightness I wanted! So it didn't get that dark, you could walk around fine (which was good, because if you had to have a light on all the time, all the bad guys would see you long before you saw them). But if you were walking somewhere precarious or had to find a dropped handgun or something? You needed a light.

And crazily enough, yes, turning on a light ruined your night vision for a few minutes. It was pretty intense.

snikrept
2012-11-19, 04:30 AM
I'm not sure I like the idea of placing character death too explicitly in the hands of player decision making. That's liable to backfire as far as the player feeling miserable is concerned. To paraphrase Calvin & Hobbes: there's no problem so awful you can't add some guilt to it and make it even worse. "Swordicus fought like a lion against impossible odds" is a much better epitaph for a grieving player to hear, than "Swordicus made a bad choice and got the consequence."