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    Default Changing that -10 death rule (Variant Rule)

    I was thinking about something, and thought that dying at a -10 was too... solid? Here is a short variant rule for me to try to remedy it. There are multiple variations, and I have not played with these. Just struck me while I was reading.

    Version 1 (Real Gritty Campaigns, Tying it to HD)
    You die at 0-(1/2 your HD). Thus a 10th level barbarian dies at -5 HP

    Version 2 (Tying it to HD)
    You die at -10-1/2 your HD. Thus a 10th level barbarian dies at -15 HP

    Version 3 (Tying it to constitution modifier, Real Gritty Campaigns)
    You die at the inverse of your Constitution Modifier. Thus a barbarian with a Constitution of 20 dies at -5 HP

    Version 4 (Tying it to Constitution Modifier)
    You die at -10-(constitution modifier). Thus a barbarian with a constitution of 20 dies at -15 HP

    Version 5 (Tying it to Constitution Score)
    You die at the inverse of your constitution score, thus a barbarian with a constitution of 20 dies at -20 HP

    Version 6 (Tying it to Constitution Modifier+HD)
    You die at 0-(Constitution Modifier+1/2 HD). Thus a 10th level barbarian with constitution of 20 dies at -10 HP.

    Version 7 (Tying it to Constitution Score+1/2 HD)
    You die at 0-(Constitution Score+1/2 HD). Thus a 10th level barbarian with a constitution of 20 dies at -25 HP.

    Version 8 (Tying it To Constitution+HD)
    You Die at the inverse of (HD+Constitution Score). Thus a 10th level barbarian with a constitution of 20 dies at -30 HP.

    Version 9 (Tying it To Constitution Score, and 2*HD)
    You Die at the inverse of (Constitution Score+2*HD) Thus a 10th Level Barbarian with a constitution of 20 dies at -40 HP.

    Version 10 (Tying it to HD+2*Constitution Score)
    You Die at the inverse of (HD+2*Constitution Score). Thus a 10th Level Barbarian with a constitution of 20 dies at -50 HP.

    These would all affect balance, although I think the shift is mostly in favor of martial types. They were just an idea that occurred, so fee free to PEACH.
    Last edited by Westhart; 2017-10-17 at 10:03 AM.
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    Default Re: Changing that -10 death rule (Variant Rule)

    Quote Originally Posted by NothingAbnormal View Post
    Version 5 (Tying it to Constitution Score)
    You die at the inverse of your constitution score, thus a barbarian with a constitution of 20 dies at -20 HP
    This one is my preference- it's the simplest and most straightforward (besides the RAWs flat -10) and yet still has the potential to be reasonably effective.
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    Default Re: Changing that -10 death rule (Variant Rule)

    Quote Originally Posted by Deepbluediver View Post
    This one is my preference- it's the simplest and most straightforward (besides the RAWs flat -10) and yet still has the potential to be reasonably effective.
    Yeah, it was my fave as well
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    Default Re: Changing that -10 death rule (Variant Rule)

    Shouldn't version 4 be -15?
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    Quote Originally Posted by JNAProductions View Post
    Shouldn't version 4 be -15?
    I don't know What you're talking about
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    Default Re: Changing that -10 death rule (Variant Rule)

    I did a game with Con score + HD.

    Thus a level 10 Barbarian with Con 20 would die at (HD + Con score) = (10 + 20) = -30 hp.

    That seemed to give a reasonable buffer even in a caster-heavy mid-OP mid-level game.

    Still had a few character deaths, but the "dying" range was meaningful.

    If I did it over, I'd probably expand the "dying" range further. Maybe (Con score + 2 * HD), so you'd get a much deeper buffer as damage scaled.

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    Default Re: Changing that -10 death rule (Variant Rule)

    Quote Originally Posted by Nifft View Post
    If I did it over, I'd probably expand the "dying" range further. Maybe (Con score + 2 * HD), so you'd get a much deeper buffer as damage scaled.
    You don't think that's a little much? I mean, higher-level players already have a bigger buffer due to having more HP. The only reason this seems like it would be necessary is if your party has no in-combat healing whatsoever.

    Now, I know that in-combat has traditionally proven to be less-than-optimal in 3.5, but I see that as reason to adjust the mechanics, not to kill it off entirely.
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    Default Re: Changing that -10 death rule (Variant Rule)

    My DM has gone with: the larger of (version 5 -10) or -0.5* your max hit points. Yes those are fairly large numbers. We've still had a few party deaths.

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    Default Re: Changing that -10 death rule (Variant Rule)

    Quote Originally Posted by Stelio Kontos View Post
    My DM has gone with: the larger of (version 5 -10) or -0.5* your max hit points. Yes those are fairly large numbers. We've still had a few party deaths.
    Unless you're playing in a setting that has removed all resurrection magic, is that really an issue?

    I realize that if you play by the RAW, campaigns frequently come to a point where death almost doesn't matter, but I see that as a problem, not a feature. I think it maintains an important element of tension if players have be a little cautious or risk permanent character loss.
    Last edited by Deepbluediver; 2017-10-16 at 08:05 PM.
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    Default Re: Changing that -10 death rule (Variant Rule)

    Quote Originally Posted by Deepbluediver View Post
    You don't think that's a little much? I mean, higher-level players already have a bigger buffer due to having more HP. The only reason this seems like it would be necessary is if your party has no in-combat healing whatsoever.
    Nope.

    At moderate optimization + mid-levels, it's the difference between strong crits killing you from full PERIOD, vs. strong crits putting you in a dangerous & high-tension situation where you're helpless and your allies need to respond.

    I like rolling out in the open -- it gives the players a better conception of the risks their characters are taking, plus I don't have to worry about pulling punches / illusionism / etc. -- but what that also means is that I need the system to behave well even when it's forced to be transparent & accountable.

    The standard 3.x negative HP buffer is worthless above 3rd level. Damage scales too fast, and critical hits add too much variance.

    If you want the "Dying" condition to be meaningful at all, if you want to see tension at the table instead of just flat-out killing PCs and thus killing that player's investment in the battle, then you need a bigger buffer.

    PCs will still die. D&D is dangerous, and not all deaths are due to HP damage -- and even with a negative buffer TWICE as big as their maximum HP, the PCs are helpless while at negatives, and being helpless means dying a lot faster if the enemy has a spare action and wants you dead.

    "The Blackguard walks over to the unconscious Paladin and stabs his helpless body for (dice) 23 damage. Is Sir Smitesalot still alive? Great. Next round the Blackguard is going to Coup de Grace. Wizard, your turn."

    That's exciting. That's tense. That's fun. You won't get that without a deep negative zone.

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    Default Re: Changing that -10 death rule (Variant Rule)

    Quote Originally Posted by Nifft View Post
    I did a game with Con score + HD.

    Thus a level 10 Barbarian with Con 20 would die at (HD + Con score) = (10 + 20) = -30 hp.

    That seemed to give a reasonable buffer even in a caster-heavy mid-OP mid-level game.

    Still had a few character deaths, but the "dying" range was meaningful.

    If I did it over, I'd probably expand the "dying" range further. Maybe (Con score + 2 * HD), so you'd get a much deeper buffer as damage scaled.
    Hmm, that would make die hard better then it is in core... Also increases the tense "hurry up, this dude is gonna kill me" -ness

    Quote Originally Posted by Deepbluediver View Post
    Unless you're playing in a setting that has removed all resurrection magic, is that really an issue?

    I realize that if you play by the RAW, campaigns frequently come to a point where death almost doesn't matter, but I see that as a problem, not a feature. I think it maintains an important element of tension if players have be a little cautious or risk permanent character loss.
    You know, I had a DM tie the loss of experience to a loss of memories, thus that petty xp loss for wish? You just forgot [insert important memory here]. Not necessarily that big of a penlaty, but it did make RP rather interesting... Well, you brought X back to life... and now have no idea who they are

    Quote Originally Posted by Nifft View Post
    Nope.

    At moderate optimization + mid-levels, it's the difference between strong crits killing you from full PERIOD, vs. strong crits putting you in a dangerous & high-tension situation where you're helpless and your allies need to respond.

    I like rolling out in the open -- it gives the players a better conception of the risks their characters are taking, plus I don't have to worry about pulling punches / illusionism / etc. -- but what that also means is that I need the system to behave well even when it's forced to be transparent & accountable.

    The standard 3.x negative HP buffer is worthless above 3rd level. Damage scales too fast, and critical hits add too much variance.

    If you want the "Dying" condition to be meaningful at all, if you want to see tension at the table instead of just flat-out killing PCs and thus killing that player's investment in the battle, then you need a bigger buffer.

    PCs will still die. D&D is dangerous, and not all deaths are due to HP damage -- and even with a negative buffer TWICE as big as their maximum HP, the PCs are helpless while at negatives, and being helpless means dying a lot faster if the enemy has a spare action and wants you dead.

    "The Blackguard walks over to the unconscious Paladin and stabs his helpless body for (dice) 23 damage. Is Sir Smitesalot still alive? Great. Next round the Blackguard is going to Coup de Grace. Wizard, your turn."

    That's exciting. That's tense. That's fun. You won't get that without a deep negative zone.
    Hmm, I think I'll add it to the versions, if you don't mind?
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    Default Re: Changing that -10 death rule (Variant Rule)

    Quote Originally Posted by Nifft View Post
    Nope.

    At moderate optimization + mid-levels, it's the difference between strong crits killing you from full PERIOD, vs. strong crits putting you in a dangerous & high-tension situation where you're helpless and your allies need to respond.

    I like rolling out in the open -- it gives the players a better conception of the risks their characters are taking, plus I don't have to worry about pulling punches / illusionism / etc. -- but what that also means is that I need the system to behave well even when it's forced to be transparent & accountable.

    The standard 3.x negative HP buffer is worthless above 3rd level. Damage scales too fast, and critical hits add too much variance.

    If you want the "Dying" condition to be meaningful at all, if you want to see tension at the table instead of just flat-out killing PCs and thus killing that player's investment in the battle, then you need a bigger buffer.

    PCs will still die. D&D is dangerous, and not all deaths are due to HP damage -- and even with a negative buffer TWICE as big as their maximum HP, the PCs are helpless while at negatives, and being helpless means dying a lot faster if the enemy has a spare action and wants you dead.

    "The Blackguard walks over to the unconscious Paladin and stabs his helpless body for (dice) 23 damage. Is Sir Smitesalot still alive? Great. Next round the Blackguard is going to Coup de Grace. Wizard, your turn."

    That's exciting. That's tense. That's fun. You won't get that without a deep negative zone.
    All that makes sense, but I'm still not sure it's addressing the correct root of the problem.

    If someone gets low and then takes an unexpected crit to the face and dies, the issue is that they let themselves get to low without any form of in-combat healing. If someone gets one-shot from full health or gets murdered in a single turn before anyone can help them, then they needed more HP or better defenses or a better strategy in the first place. The issue with the dying condition is that the person who's doing it most often can't help themselves- they have to rely on their teammates for a healing spell or to CC the big baddie that's about to execute them. That can certainly be tense, but I'm not sure it's fun.

    Like I said before, the general wisdom in 3.5 states that in-combat healing isn't optimal, and because there's no difference in performance between 1 HP and max HP, people are used to hanging out at low HP and trying to kill the big baddy rather than backing off and healing up for a round or two. I think the better overall goal is to adjust the mechanics so that players actually care about their HP before it goes negative, and there's more incentive to not risk being critted into helplessness.


    Quote Originally Posted by NothingAbnormal View Post
    You know, I had a DM tie the loss of experience to a loss of memories, thus that petty xp loss for wish? You just forgot [insert important memory here]. Not necessarily that big of a penlaty, but it did make RP rather interesting... Well, you brought X back to life... and now have no idea who they are
    That does sound very interesting from a roleplaying perspective, although honestly I was never a fan of the XP-requirement for spellcasting. It's like admitting that a particular spell is horribly imbalanced for it's level, so we need something that will stop players from spamming it. So the first response should be to adjust the spell's level, and if it turns out to be imbalanced at every level, then you need to go back to square one and rework the spell from scratch. If the effect is something you still want players to have access to, then you need to find some other way to give it to them, maybe via magic artifacts or scrolls or a magic ritual that's tied to the ley-lines in a specific location or whatever.

    Resurrection magic in general can be problematic IMO- I prefer scenarios where it's available but much rarer, like it requires a special ritual and some sort of spell-focus that only a large church or temple is likely to have on hand (and because it's a holy relic they won't sell it, obviously). That way if a member of your party bites it you CAN drag their corpse to a nearby city and get them rezzed, but it's more complicated than just waiting until the cleric or druid refreshes their spells slots and/or whips out a scroll.

    Hmm, I think I'll add it to the versions, if you don't mind?
    If you must, I recommend HD + 2 * Con, instead of the other way around. This keeps your Con score important and ensures the Barbarian will have a much bigger buffer than the Wizard.
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    Default Re: Changing that -10 death rule (Variant Rule)

    Quote Originally Posted by Deepbluediver View Post
    If you must, I recommend HD + 2 * Con, instead of the other way around. This keeps your Con score important and ensures the Barbarian will have a much bigger buffer than the Wizard.
    Added both.
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    Default Re: Changing that -10 death rule (Variant Rule)

    Quote Originally Posted by Deepbluediver View Post
    Unless you're playing in a setting that has removed all resurrection magic, is that really an issue?

    I realize that if you play by the RAW, campaigns frequently come to a point where death almost doesn't matter, but I see that as a problem, not a feature. I think it maintains an important element of tension if players have be a little cautious or risk permanent character loss.
    It's an issue when you aren't high enough level to have resurrection magic, yes.

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    Default Re: Changing that -10 death rule (Variant Rule)

    Quote Originally Posted by Stelio Kontos View Post
    It's an issue when you aren't high enough level to have resurrection magic, yes.
    Like when the squishy wizard who is new to the game gets caught by himself against 4 rouges (the party was 2nd level, and there was 6 of them... The wizard literally stumbled on all 4 by himself...)
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    Default Re: Changing that -10 death rule (Variant Rule)

    Quote Originally Posted by NothingAbnormal View Post
    Like when the squishy wizard who is new to the game gets caught by himself against 4 rouges (the party was 2nd level, and there was 6 of them... The wizard literally stumbled on all 4 by himself...)
    That sounds like a DM problem more than a system problem. Even if the Rogues were all level 1, that's a pretty crazy encounter.

    Edit: Woops, my bad. They weren't Rogues-they were Rouges!

    ...

    Why is someone cloning that bat? :P
    Last edited by JNAProductions; 2017-10-17 at 10:26 AM.
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    Default Re: Changing that -10 death rule (Variant Rule)

    Quote Originally Posted by Stelio Kontos View Post
    It's an issue when you aren't high enough level to have resurrection magic, yes.
    That's what I'm talking about- having resurrection magic as a spell means your caster gains a level and you instantly go from "He's dead! Oh my god!" to "He's dead! ....meh" just like that.

    A better way to do it would be to have something like Resurrection is a ritual you can get at any temple for a "donation" equal to 100*HD^2 (because a more power powerful soul is obviously tougher to draw back from it's final rest). That way resurrections aren't out of reach of low-level parties, but they are still not inconsequential to high-level groups.

    Plus I think it's funny to imagine a party having a conversation that goes something like "Well, he was only 3rd level, so we COULD pay 1000 gold to have him rezzed, or we could spend 50 gold on a really nice tombstone and just go recruit a new party member..."


    Quote Originally Posted by NothingAbnormal View Post
    Like when the squishy wizard who is new to the game gets caught by himself against 4 rouges (the party was 2nd level, and there was 6 of them... The wizard literally stumbled on all 4 by himself...)
    Consider this a learning experience then- the lesson learned should be that "D&D is dangerous", not "I can tank 14 sneak attacks with my face and still not die".

    And what was level 2 party doing facing 6 rogues anyway?
    Last edited by Deepbluediver; 2017-10-17 at 10:28 AM.
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    Default Re: Changing that -10 death rule (Variant Rule)

    Quote Originally Posted by Deepbluediver View Post
    Consider this a learning experience then- the lesson learned should be that "D&D is dangerous", not "I can take 14 sneak attacks with my face and still not die".

    And what was level 2 party doing facing 6 rogues anyway?
    4 rogues @ level 1, 6 party members @ level 2, not 6 rogues
    edit: I meant to say 4 XD my bad!
    Last edited by Westhart; 2017-10-17 at 10:30 AM.
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    Default Re: Changing that -10 death rule (Variant Rule)

    Quote Originally Posted by NothingAbnormal View Post
    4 rogues @ level 1, 6 party members @ level 2, not 6 rogues
    edit: I meant to say 4 XD my bad!
    Ah, that changes it significantly.
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    Default Re: Changing that -10 death rule (Variant Rule)

    Quote Originally Posted by JNAProductions View Post
    Ah, that changes it significantly.
    yes, it would have been easy for them, kind of a warm up... but the wizard decided to steal a sword from one of the martials (using homebrew) that he wasn't even proficient with and run into the dungeon... where the rogues of course heard him... yeah...
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    Default Re: Changing that -10 death rule (Variant Rule)

    Quote Originally Posted by NothingAbnormal View Post
    yes, it would have been easy for them, kind of a warm up... but the wizard decided to steal a sword from one of the martials (using homebrew) that he wasn't even proficient with and run into the dungeon... where the rogues of course heard him... yeah...
    Sounds like the outcome was exactly what you would expect, then. I don't want a game that fails to punish idiocy- if a player is determined to off themselves, they'll find a way.
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    Default Re: Changing that -10 death rule (Variant Rule)

    Quote Originally Posted by NothingAbnormal View Post
    yes, it would have been easy for them, kind of a warm up... but the wizard decided to steal a sword from one of the martials (using homebrew) that he wasn't even proficient with and run into the dungeon... where the rogues of course heard him... yeah...
    Okay, nevermind. Not a DM issue-that was just a dumb player.
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    Default Re: Changing that -10 death rule (Variant Rule)

    Quote Originally Posted by JNAProductions View Post
    Okay, nevermind. Not a DM issue-that was just a dumb player.
    Yes... I even tried to show him some spells that he might survive with... or at the least be able to get away... then he looks at me, smiles and says "I swing the sword." a lvl 2 wizard... Basically he read that casters could do everything better, but he did not optimize or anything... Note that this was after I had ran him through one very slow paced dungeon crawl to get him used to the game
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    Default Re: Changing that -10 death rule (Variant Rule)

    Quote Originally Posted by Nifft View Post
    Nope.

    At moderate optimization + mid-levels, it's the difference between strong crits killing you from full PERIOD, vs. strong crits putting you in a dangerous & high-tension situation where you're helpless and your allies need to respond.
    Quote Originally Posted by Deepbluediver View Post
    All that makes sense, but I'm still not sure it's addressing the correct root of the problem.

    If someone gets low and then takes an unexpected crit to the face and dies, the issue is that they let themselves get to low without any form of in-combat healing. If someone gets one-shot from full health or gets murdered in a single turn before anyone can help them, then they needed more HP or better defenses or a better strategy in the first place. The issue with the dying condition is that the person who's doing it most often can't help themselves- they have to rely on their teammates for a healing spell or to CC the big baddie that's about to execute them. That can certainly be tense, but I'm not sure it's fun.
    Having experienced it from both sides of the screen, and having had numerous discussions with other players, I can assure you: yes, it is fun. There, you learned something.


    Expanding on this:

    D&D is a game, and a big part of the game's fun is risk-taking.

    The PCs take risks and discover later -- when they succeed or die -- whether they fully understood the risks.

    I'm guessing that you don't actually play, and you're just theory-crafting "safe" solutions to problems which you won't personally experience.

    That's fine -- and I'm glad you found a way to have fun in spite of not gaming -- but you need to understand that what you do is a different kind of fun from the kind that we experience at the table.

    At the table, risk happens. The PCs will risk death because that's part of the game. No matter what defenses they might have, they risk death.

    As a DM, I can and do ensure that the PCs risk failure, up to and including the possibility of death.

    That's a big part of the DM's job: ensuring that risk happens.

    Risk of failure is part of the game's fun.

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    Default Re: Changing that -10 death rule (Variant Rule)

    Quote Originally Posted by Nifft View Post
    I'm guessing that you don't actually play, and you're just theory-crafting "safe" solutions to problems which you won't personally experience.
    I don't play as much as I used to, but I have played plenty of D&D. All of it 3.5, so maybe you have the advantage of experiencing other systems, but that's it.

    Having experienced it from both sides of the screen, and having had numerous discussions with other players, I can assure you: yes, it is fun. There, you learned something.
    Wow, could you please take that chip off your shoulder? The discussions here should be fun and interesting, and open to everyone's ideas, not a pissing contest on who's the most right.

    Now what exactly are you saying is "fun"? Being unconscious? Personally, the only thing I can think about when I'm knocked out is how soon someone else can get over to me with a Cure Wounds spell or potion or whatever. Yes, it can be fun to be the one who saves a teammate with a well placed spell or ability, but it shouldn't require someone else being taken out of the action to provide that sort of opportunity.

    D&D is a game, and a big part of the game's fun is risk-taking.
    The PCs take risks and discover later -- when they succeed or die -- whether they fully understood the risks.
    At the table, risk happens. The PCs will risk death because that's part of the game. No matter what defenses they might have, they risk death.
    As a DM, I can and do ensure that the PCs risk failure, up to and including the possibility of death.
    That's a big part of the DM's job: ensuring that risk happens.
    My groups always seemed to manage to run non-super-lethal campaigns without having huge inverse HP pools* (I don't know what else to label, but I assume you understand what I'm talking about). Dealing with dangerous situations often required that we sit down and hash out a plan rather than just charging in and hoping to figure it out as we went because there was zero possibility of anyone accidentally dying.

    *Except for that one time we ran Tomb of Horrors, and everyone was instructed to come with several back-up characters already prepped.

    I'm fine with changing the flat -10 rule; I've been in games with the "negative con score" variant and nearly everyone liked it. I just expressed surprise that you felt it needed to be several times that. When you have HD + Con, and especially if you double one or the other, it's not hard to imagine a scenario where a character (especially small-HD characters) having a bigger buffer below 0 HP than above it.

    So let me ask you directly- why do you feel this is the best way to address the issue? Why do characters need DRASTICALLY bigger negative HP buffers? If you think that damage scales to fast, then why is this the better option than just increasing the HP they have?

    Risk of failure is part of the game's fun.
    OK, so why do you seem hellbent on making it much much nigh-impossible for people to die?
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    Default Re: Changing that -10 death rule (Variant Rule)

    Quote Originally Posted by Deepbluediver View Post
    Wow, could you please take that chip off your shoulder? The discussions here should be fun and interesting, and open to everyone's ideas, not a pissing contest on who's the most right.
    It was fun & interesting until you tried to dismiss my experience as "looking at the wrong problem".

    You turned this discussion into a pissing match, which probably wasn't a good idea, since you appear to be down-wind.

    Quote Originally Posted by Deepbluediver View Post
    Now what exactly are you saying is "fun"? Being unconscious?
    Relative to being DEAD, yes.

    Having your PC unconscious means you're still engaged in this battle, instead of wandering off to make a new character and totally disengaging from the current scene.

    YES, unconscious is more exciting THAN THE ALTERNATIVE, which is what I said.

    This isn't difficult.


    Quote Originally Posted by Deepbluediver View Post
    So let me ask you directly- why do you feel this is the best way to address the issue? Why do characters need DRASTICALLY bigger negative HP buffers? If you think that damage scales to fast, then why is this the better option than just increasing the HP they have?
    It's one solution.

    It changes nothing visible -- Power Word spells still work, for example, and PCs & NPCs & monsters all have the same stats that they normally would.

    Nobody said it's ~the best~ way. That's your try at setting up a straw man, I guess.

    It's one way, and I know that it works, because I've seen it work.


    Quote Originally Posted by Deepbluediver View Post
    OK, so why do you seem hellbent on making it much much nigh-impossible for people to die?
    Because you're wrong and I'm not doing that.

    Citation: PCs did die.

    If you want to pick a fight, please do at least read what you're trying to fight about.

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    Default Re: Changing that -10 death rule (Variant Rule)

    Last time I made it "-10 or -HD, whichever is higher" because it was a long campaign and I did want to avoid too many deaths.

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    Default Re: Changing that -10 death rule (Variant Rule)

    Let me start off by saying I apologize for insulting you- it was inadvertent. I realize that reading text does not provide nearly as many social queues as speaking face-to-face, and what I wrote apparently did not come across the way I intended.

    My intent was to express surprise- because the descriptions of your in-game experience sounded so very different from my own. You apparently took it as a challenge to prove that I was wrong- that was not my intent. I am trying to explore why we had similar experiences and yet arrived at entirely different places for a solution, or even to what we viewed as a problem. Or, failing that, what was different about our experience that led us to different end-points.

    Quote Originally Posted by Nifft View Post
    It was fun & interesting until you tried to dismiss my experience as "looking at the wrong problem".
    I never said that- the exact quote is "but I'm still not sure it's addressing the correct root of the problem", because I wasn't sure what problem you where trying to solve or what issue you were trying to address. Your comments seemed to indicate that the problem you were having was that you (or your players) where dying to easily from full HP. If that's incorrect- then I need you to spell things out for me in simpler terms.

    You said "At moderate optimization + mid-levels, it's the difference between strong crits killing you from full PERIOD, vs. strong crits putting you in a dangerous & high-tension situation where you're helpless and your allies need to respond."
    Which to me seems to be an issue with either HP or damage, not the negative-zone buffer.

    You also said "PCs will still die. D&D is dangerous, and not all deaths are due to HP damage"
    Yes that's true, but SoD spells don't really have anything to do with HP most of the time. If SoD spells are the only way you can threaten players with death, that's a problem in my book. In my experience, the majority of deaths WHERE due to HP damage, and most people didn't have a problem with that.

    Relative to being DEAD, yes.
    How about compared to being alive and ACTIVE?

    Having your PC unconscious means you're still engaged in this battle, instead of wandering off to make a new character and totally disengaging from the current scene.
    But less engaged than if you were able to take actions that would affect the outcome of the fight.
    In my experience, being unconscious can certainly be a very TENSE situation, but it's rarely fun for the person who is waiting to see if they end up dead or get back in the fight.

    YES, unconscious is more exciting THAN THE ALTERNATIVE, which is what I said.
    Which alternative? I see two- being dead, and being conscious. Being conscious means you can heal yourself, or run away, or at worst even just get off one last shot that means the rest of your party survives the encounter and can drag your corpse to somewhere you can be rezzed.

    It's one solution.
    Solution to WHAT precisely? I feel like we're talking past each other, so I am doing my best to understand you.

    It changes nothing visible -- Power Word spells still work, for example, and PCs & NPCs & monsters all have the same stats that they normally would.
    Power Word spells are a tiny selection of the whole, and I'm not sure I agree with the "same stats" claim. If a player feels safer because of something they don't have to invest in, like applying 2*HD to their death-buffer, then they might put fewer points in con. And if you apply it to monsters as well, then your party needs to put extra effort into making sure something doesn't get back up while they're distracted.

    I preferred to mainly focus on increasing the distance between alive and dead in a way that would keep people or monsters active and moving.

    Nobody said it's ~the best~ way. That's your try at setting up a straw man, I guess.
    I'm pretty sure what I actually asked why you think it's a BETTER alternative- that was a direct question, nothing more.

    Because you're wrong and I'm not doing that.
    Well, that's what it feels like. Most of the people I played with appreciated that the chance of a random crit throwing your entire group into disarray was an aspect of the game. It's the same sort of issue a GM has to deal with if a random crit kills off the BBEG instead of letting him fly away while he's monologing that "this isn't over!" I got through most of my games without an undue death-toll, so it came across as a surprise to me that you felt you need a drastically larger negative-HP buffer. It seemed to me that your proposed solution would mean that no one would ever die unexpectedly so long as their team is in a position to help them out, either with a healing spell, or by dog-piling on the enemy that was threatening them, or whatever.

    Now, maybe we have different ideas on what an acceptable chance of death is. I admit that my group(s) tended to play a lot of one-shots, so I got in the habit of making characters that I didn't terribly mind if they died and I had to re-roll. For the longer campaigns I participated in, I did get emotionally invested in my characters, but that meant the group took more precautions, not that the we demanded the GM go easy on us. The fact that permadeath was a real option kept us on our toes, even when we weren't actively involved in combat.

    Citation: PCs did die.
    I'm curious- when and how?

    Lets look at the example you gave before- "The Blackguard walks over to the unconscious Paladin and stabs his helpless body for (dice) 23 damage. Is Sir Smitesalot still alive? Great. Next round the Blackguard is going to Coup de Grace. Wizard, your turn."

    How exactly did Sir Smitesalot end up unconscious in the first place? If he was losing a little HP every turn, and you thought he'd have 2+ turns left to heal but caught an unexpected Crit and went unconscious, then it seems like that was a definitive decision on his and your group's part to let him get into the range where that was a danger in the first place, rather than a problem with the game. If the melee-tank went from full-HP to unconscious in 1 turn, then that seems like an issue with encounter design. Which, to be fair, can be a definite problem- there are several threads on this forum about mis-CR'd creatures.

    It seems to me (and correct me if I'm wrong) that your group(s) are making decisions that let your characters get into the "danger zone", and that the problem you're trying to address is that there are consequences for that. My group(s) tended to tackle this issue by not letting people go below a certain percentage of their health, or when able we'd come up with a plan that shifted the circumstances of the encounter to favor us more before engaging. So it struck me as surprising when you seemed to be claiming that you needed a bigger buffer zone to keep people from dying.



    My ideal solution to make players care about their HP, and to create tense situation, is something like 4e's "Bloodied" mechanic. I makes you care about your HP at a range above 1, it creates incentives for players to help each other out in combat, and it lets you have moments when you want to disengage from a fight while you are still able to do so.

    Having a somewhat-larger HP buffer before death is good in my opinion. But I'm not convinced I want it to eclipse the HP you have when you're alive and active. Hitting a wizard once with an ax to knock him unconscious, and then having to hit him 3 more times to kill him, comes across to me as an odd way to set up damage and health and balance fights, and most importantly- manage risk.
    Last edited by Deepbluediver; 2017-10-17 at 09:40 PM.
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    Default Re: Changing that -10 death rule (Variant Rule)

    Quote Originally Posted by Deepbluediver View Post
    Let me start off by saying I apologize for insulting you- it was inadvertent. I realize that reading text does not provide nearly as many social queues as speaking face-to-face, and what I wrote apparently did not come across the way I intended.

    My intent was to express surprise- because the descriptions of your in-game experience sounded so very different from my own. You apparently took it as a challenge to prove that I was wrong- that was not my intent. I am trying to explore why we had similar experiences and yet arrived at entirely different places for a solution, or even to what we viewed as a problem. Or, failing that, what was different about our experience that led us to different end-points.
    Apology accepted.

    Experience does differ, of course.

    It did appear that you were challenging my experience, simply because my experience didn't match your expectations, and that smelled like the sort of angry willful ignorance does tend to set me off.


    For things like this, where one group (or even one game within one group) can differ greatly from the next, I try to frame my advice as something which worked for me, rather than something that is better objectively for everyone -- the former is demonstrably true, while the latter is pure theory at best.


    I'm ignoring the rest of your post because it seems to delve back into the line-by-line challenge thing, and I'd prefer not to end our conversation on the sour note of your grudging and messy line-by-line defeat.

    Please accept that several years of experience as a player and DM, across all non-Epic levels of D&D, have led me to believe that this works, and that I've made a valiant & honest effort to explain why.

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    Default Re: Changing that -10 death rule (Variant Rule)

    Quote Originally Posted by Nifft View Post
    I'm ignoring the rest of your post because it seems to delve back into the line-by-line challenge thing, and I'd prefer not to end our conversation on the sour note of your grudging and messy line-by-line defeat.

    Please accept that several years of experience as a player and DM, across all non-Epic levels of D&D, have led me to believe that this works, and that I've made a valiant & honest effort to explain why.
    As you wish- although I'm still curious about what sorts of experience led you to this conclusion. "Players died to much and/or to quickly" doesn't really tell me much.

    If you'd like to describe some of the circumstances in which you or your players died I'd still be interested in reading them, without challenge or confrontation.
    Last edited by Deepbluediver; 2017-10-17 at 10:17 PM.
    Quote Originally Posted by Rater202 View Post
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