View Full Version : [House Rule] Nerfing death spells

2007-11-16, 01:27 PM
I have a question about nerfing death spells - you know: Slay Living, Finger of Death, Circle of Death, that sort of thing.

In my game, I don't allow easy access to spells that bring back the dead.
If the spells are cast within a few minutes or hours of death, the soul is still nearby and returns, but otherwise, the soul must be retrived from the appropriate outer plane. this makes raising the dead more dramatic, I feel. Anyway, I'm sticking with this house rule.

Now, on the other hand, Slay Living and Finger of Death just kill the target. If there's no (easy) way back from the dead, isn't it a bit harsh to have these extremely easy ways of killing characters?

I thought I might get round this by changing the spell descriptions from "slays" to "reduces to -1 hp". This gives nearly the same practical effect, but gives PCs a chance to save their fallen friends without all that tedious mucking about on the astral plane.

What do you Playgrounders think?

2007-11-16, 01:37 PM
Myr group runs this houserule too, and we find it very workable. Definitely go for it.

2007-11-16, 01:40 PM
Well, if they have a few minutes or hours and are wise enough to keep the right spells prepared, I don't see that it make THAT much of a difference between -1 hp and all the way dead....

2007-11-16, 01:40 PM
Sounds good-except for a Heal spell being able to get the victim back to full HP easily.

I'd suggest the spells doing 1/2 CL +6 constitution drain, half on a failed save. That's not enough to kill a PC with one blow-but it is more difficult to heal and a second blow kills you.

2007-11-16, 01:47 PM
I once worked on a similar house rule.

I think it's a good philosophy, my only real change was that it put you at -9 and dying rather than -1.

-1 seems too light for a "Death" effect, but -9 puts you right at the brink where death is likely, but some quick intervention or luck can still help you.

As for Con drain, that would be REALLY nasty. Con damage might be a little bit more appropriate.

Someone drained to 0 con would be dead forever and permanently, short of wish or miracle.

2007-11-16, 01:59 PM
Thanks for the advice!

How about -5 hp + 1d6 in CON drain?
That'd be harsh enough without going all the way.

2007-11-16, 02:55 PM
Consider Burn, instead of Drain, or Damage (can't be healed magically, but heals naturally at the rate of 1 per day).... or maybe something that requires both magic AND days of time to be recovered (requires Restoration or Restoration, Greater to ALLOW natural healing to start, but that can't actually make the healing work instantly... maybe have each casting of Restoration, Greater after natural healing has been started return 1d4 points of CON if you want a middle road).

2007-11-16, 03:05 PM
Yeah, constitution drain is at least as bad as death.

And certainly more messy.

2007-11-17, 06:49 AM
How about -5 hp + 1d6 in CON drain?
That'd be harsh enough without going all the way.

Sure, if it didn't still kill them. You lose HP per HD when you lose Con, so you're still likely to die from that.

2007-11-17, 07:00 AM
Sure, if it didn't still kill them. You lose HP per HD when you lose Con, so you're still likely to die from that.

I think he means a loss of CON and then dropping down to -5.

2007-11-17, 10:14 AM
Con Drain is worse than death. Death can at least be restored, permanent Drain takes high level spells to get rid of, and too much can make it impossible to be effective.

Don't institute Con Drain. Just don't, the players will wish death was just insta-kill again.

2007-11-17, 10:28 AM
Restoration gets rid of all drain to one stat and is Cleric 4, Raise Dead is Cleric 5. So I have no idea where you are getting the idea that Drain is harder to get rid of than death...

P.S. And the Material components are x50 more expensive for Raise Dead as well.

P.P.S. Unless you meant that the easy solution to death is rolling up a new character rather than being "forced" to play a "Lame Duck"...

2007-11-18, 02:24 AM
There might be some confusion over drain and damage. I didn't think that Restoration took care of drain until I reread it a minute ago.

Anyway, Con damage or drain (I'd suggest going with damage) would be a pretty good way of handling most death spells. It would have good internal consistency if they were all changed to some such mechanic, as I think it would better represent a physical form of sudden death (which might presumably be heart failure or something). There could be several classes of death spells set up intended to cause death in a few categories of methods: one class of spells does Con damage to kill the body, one class does massive Cha or Wis damage to kill the mind or soul, one class might have no effect other than to drop the HP down to negative levels in a system shock sort of idea. This would also explain why undead and constructs are immune to some of these (and why there might exist still other classes of spells for killing the unliving). Of course, going to those lengths would probably require the spell system to be ripped up a bit and new spells made, but that's probably a good idea anyway.

(P.S. None of these hypothetical spells should be like Shivering Touch. Anything that can kill you should be weaponlike or allow a save.)