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 Post subject: Save or die
PostPosted: Wed Mar 02, 2011 11:42 am 
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I like save or die spells and poison. They make adventurers cautious. Overused they can piss off players and wreck a campaign, but used rarely they bring a lot of tension to the gaming table. Disintegrate should, well, disintegrate you. Flesh to stone should turn you to stone, not slow you. If you drink something really bad for you, you die quickly. High level spells and effects should be dangerous. Throwing these things out willy nilly in on every trap is bad game design, but if I have the bigbadass thingamabob that the chosen hero prophesied for 10,000 years can kill me with, it should have nasty, nasty traps on it. The trap to level two of the cave of Bob the kobold, not so much. Please do not nerf iconic spells like disintegrate, harm, etc. Finger of death should not be Finger of I got a booboo.


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 Post subject: Re: Save or die
PostPosted: Wed Mar 02, 2011 1:54 pm 
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Location: Denver, Colorado
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Back in 1999 a friend of mine ran a group of our friends and I through the I6 (Ravenloft) module on Halloween using the 1e rules. It was too much fun! :)

I went through two characters that night. My first one died in character creation. The DM rolled up some random starting items for us. One of my items was an unknown potion. I drank it. He looked at the book, then said "Um, please save vs. death." I looked at him incredulously and rolled my save. Then I made another character.

John Donne wrote:
"Death comes equally to us all, and makes us all equal when it comes."


That is one of the things that makes DCC RPG exciting for me. It is lethal to characters.

My first character death in DCC at the hands of a laughing Harley was to a falling block trap. My 0-level Dwarf triggered the trap and rather than knowing to dodge out of the way simply looked up when he heard the block start to fall. Harley only game me time for a single action before my character was crushed.

All of the character deaths that I have suffered at the hands of Harley have been fun for me. DCC is rather refreshing in this respect.

I can't wait for the next playtest. I want to see how much Harley's body count goes up. :D

So, I agree keep the lethal spells lethal.

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 Post subject: Re: Save or die
PostPosted: Wed Mar 02, 2011 5:57 pm 
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The only problem with "save or die" stuff is that players can react one of two ways:
(1) free-wheeling, damn-the-torpedoes, let's get 'em style where they just do stuff for fun.
(2) total withdraw, with fatalistic fear that anything could kill them and they can't do anything about it.

I think it all comes down to the personality of the group. My high school group was more like #1, my current group is more like #2.

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"The worthy GM never purposely kills players' PCs, He presents opportunities for the rash and unthinking players to do that all on their own."
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 Post subject: Re: Save or die
PostPosted: Wed Mar 02, 2011 6:25 pm 
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Well, if save or dies are prevelant throughout the campaign and it comes up 3 or 4 times a session, then yeah, the pc mortality rate will skyrocket and that's no fun for anyone, player or dm. If used rarely, it really raises the drama level. I like to put a sod trap in the very first room of a really tough dungeon. Then you don't have to have any more traps like that, but the pcs don't know that. It'll keep 'em on their toes.

But yeah, if they go prodding everything with 10 foot poles it can get old fast. Prodding suspicious stuff is okay, every section of hallway, not so much. But you can stop that by the rules as well. In 1e, it takes 1 turn (10 minutes) to search a 10 x 10 foot section. Random encounters are generally rolled for every 2 hours in a dungeon, iirc. So, every 12th prod can generate a random encounter. This will burn up healing spells pretty quickly.


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 Post subject: Re: Save or die
PostPosted: Wed Mar 02, 2011 9:31 pm 
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finarvyn wrote:
The only problem with "save or die" stuff is that players can react one of two ways:
(1) free-wheeling, damn-the-torpedoes, let's get 'em style where they just do stuff for fun.
(2) total withdraw, with fatalistic fear that anything could kill them and they can't do anything about it.

I think it all comes down to the personality of the group. My high school group was more like #1, my current group is more like #2.


I think it depends on how the DM plays it as well. I believe in giving "fair warning". Meaning, if there's a pit trap of certain death, I'll have tracks that end mysteriously in front of it. If there's a instant death trap at the door of a dungeon, I'll have an adventurer's skeleton somewhere in the area. If there's a monster with an instant death effect, the party will hear warnings or rumors about it back in the village.

I don't hold a group's hand. But I foreshadow things so that way they have no one to blame but themselves if they fall prey to a "save or die". It might be nice to have a sidebar or something in the DM section to give advice on different ways to run a "save or die" situation. The only problem I've ever had with it was more with bone-headed DMs than the mechanic itself. And I think it's important to have "save or die" in a game.

I've played/run D&D both before and after it. And I have to say, D&D without "save or die" is significantly less suspenseful for me.


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 Post subject: Re: Save or die
PostPosted: Thu Mar 03, 2011 4:03 am 
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Save or die has a place in Appendix N and so it should be in the DCC RPG. There is a ton of instant death in the stories I've read so far. Poison, traps, spells, they all can kill instantly. However I agree with Smathis give some fair warning when you can.

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 Post subject: Re: Save or die
PostPosted: Thu Mar 03, 2011 11:20 am 
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finarvyn wrote:
The only problem with "save or die" stuff is that players can react one of two ways:
(1) free-wheeling, damn-the-torpedoes, let's get 'em style where they just do stuff for fun.
(2) total withdraw, with fatalistic fear that anything could kill them and they can't do anything about it.

I think it all comes down to the personality of the group. My high school group was more like #1, my current group is more like #2.


To further extend out what you have written here. In a long term campaign where you have hundreds of hours invested in your character, save and die is a tough pill to swallow.

Now 3e/4e when too far the other way, but a good happy medium needs to be found. A 9th level spell of death (w/ save)... awesome. Power Word Kill (no save)... annoying (as both DM and player).

So yes, there should be save or die effects. I would be even willing to allow two saves for lesser level spells. (i.e. 1st save does x, if you miss it you make an immediate second save or die/disintegrate/etc).

It will all really depend on how the ST system works... more 3e? or more 1e?

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 Post subject: Re: Save or die
PostPosted: Thu Mar 03, 2011 12:13 pm 
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I've always pretty liked - as DM or player - the concept of saving versus a source of sudden death (a death spell, a pit full of spears, a vintage rolling boulder ending his run in a nook): it's a boolean feeling.

Suspense starts growing before you roll the dice, it keeps growing as the dice spins and it reaches the climax when the dice stops: at this point, there's grief or relief.

Boolean.. maybe too much.
Particularly - as Hamakto remarks - in a long term campaign.


That's why, as a rule of thumb, IMHO you can introduce -as Hamakto said - a further roll, in order to have 3 results:
    1 - success
    2 - fail with death
    3 - fail with consequences (for example XdY damage to CON, to express a non lethal heart attack if struck by a death spell or pierced organs if you fall into a pit full of spears)

If you succeed in your ST, you don't need a further roll.
If you fail both your STs, you're dead.
If you fail the first ST but succeed the second ST, you're partially safe (XdY CON damage applies: if CON drops to 0, you're dead).


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 Post subject: Re: Save or die
PostPosted: Thu Mar 03, 2011 12:38 pm 
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I do think SOD situations should be somewhat rare.

However, I also think that the presence of instant death makes the countless hours put into the 14th level character that much more awesome. It is more of an accomplishment that your character survived that long.

Hamakto wrote:
It will all really depend on how the ST system works... more 3e? or more 1e?


My vote is for more 1e.

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"The Black Dougal" (formerly known as dkeester) -- DCCRPG Fan Boy since 2010
DCCRPG PC Death Toll: 25

DCCRPG Playtests: Tacticon 2010, GenghisCon 2011, Tacticon 2011, GenghisCon 2012
Member: The DCC Expendables (Denver, CO)

Doug may very well hold the dubious title of “most DCC RPG PCs lost during the course of convention play.”
--Harley Stroh


Last edited by Black Dougal on Thu Mar 03, 2011 1:23 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post subject: Re: Save or die
PostPosted: Thu Mar 03, 2011 1:16 pm 
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Hamakto wrote:
To further extend out what you have written here. In a long term campaign where you have hundreds of hours invested in your character, save and die is a tough pill to swallow.

In general, I prefer to have save-or-die effects in my rpgs, but I didn't always feel that way, and I think my opinion varies (somewhat) based on the intended feel of the game, and on the associated mechanics.

If the power curve is more like 1e (comparatively slow advancement that plateaus around 10th level, saving throws against equal-level foes get easier as levels increase, and combats are expected to be fled from or otherwise avoided with some regularity), then save-or-die is great!

If the power curve is more like 3e (comparatively fast advancement is expected even to the highest levels, save bonuses that can't keep pace with escalating spell/ability DCs, and combats are generally expected to be met head-on), then save-or-die is somewhat less appropriate. (Though still fine to a degree.)

Quote:
It will all really depend on how the ST system works... more 3e? or more 1e?

Yes, I agree.


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 Post subject: Re: Save or die
PostPosted: Thu Mar 03, 2011 1:52 pm 
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'It plays like a 1970s OD&D session.'

Therefore Save or Die is de rigeur, an absolute must. I sometimes leave some clues but not always, sometimes a player has to instinctively know that putting their head into the stone demon's maw on an ill-starred night is a bad idea. Otherwise it's bring on the freaky resurrection rules which surely only work if you have some costly pact with a god/demon.

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Last edited by geordie racer on Thu Mar 03, 2011 2:00 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post subject: Re: Save or die
PostPosted: Thu Mar 03, 2011 1:55 pm 
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Deft-Handed Cutpurse

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geordie racer wrote:
'It plays like a 1970s OD&D session.'

Therefore Save or Die is de rigeur, an absolute must. I sometimes leave some clues but not always, sometimes a player has to instinctively know that putting their head into the stone demon's maw on an ill-starred night is a bad idea.


Good point. :)

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"The Black Dougal" (formerly known as dkeester) -- DCCRPG Fan Boy since 2010
DCCRPG PC Death Toll: 25

DCCRPG Playtests: Tacticon 2010, GenghisCon 2011, Tacticon 2011, GenghisCon 2012
Member: The DCC Expendables (Denver, CO)

Doug may very well hold the dubious title of “most DCC RPG PCs lost during the course of convention play.”
--Harley Stroh


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 Post subject: Re: Save or die
PostPosted: Thu Mar 03, 2011 2:13 pm 
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I think Save or Die should be included. DCC is going to be a badass game, not one made for weaklings who need three failed saving throws to die. :lol:
What I never liked is level drain. I have no problem with permanent ability damage, but level draining is simply a pain in the ass. Put in more ways to loose ability scores (monster attacks, critical hits, etc.) or age your character faster (sight or touch of a monster, spell's effect, etc.), but please, leave level drain out.

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 Post subject: Re: Save or die
PostPosted: Thu Mar 03, 2011 2:34 pm 
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The only thing I would add to a Save or Die situation is that if your character does die, you get a Last Gasp maneuver... A chance to do something with the death that could aid your party. Giant tentacle dragging you down into a vast crevasse, never to be heard from again? There's a chance you could drag another of the tentacles with you, by using that chain over your shoulder, and lessen the threat to the survivors -- with a good roll.

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Gnome Boy • DCC playtester @ DDC 35 Feb '11. • Beta DL 2111, 7AM PT, 8 June 11.
Playing RPGs since '77 • Quasi-occasional member of the Legion of 8th-Level Fighters.

Link: Here Be DCC Monsters

PbP Purple Planeteers!

Havarth • Cleric/Zikcub • Animal trainr • L
S11 A11 S9 P15 I9 L7
AC10, HP12, R0 F1 W2
Glaive+0 1-10
Club+0 1-4
X' chain, sack
Bless, Dtct Ev, Prot fm Evil, Word oCmmnd

Lucius • Cleric/Verlore • Slave • N
S13 A11 S8 P15 I11 L11
AC10+, HP6, R0 F0 W2
Sword+1 _
Club+1 2-5
Hide armor, flint/steel, green stone, oil 1
Crit table +1
Dark, Holy Sanct, Resist Cold/Heat, Word o Cmmnd

Toby • Squire
S13 A10 S14 P15 I16 L9
AC10+, hp3, R0 F1 W1
Lg swrd+1 2-9
Scale armor, sack, helm, L’ rope, torch • Com, Chaos, Hobgob

Kelven • Smuggler
S14 A8 S11 P12 I7 L10
AC9+, hp2(4), In-1, R-1 F0 W0
Sword+1 _
Staff+1 or Sling -1 2-5
Scale armr, waterprf sack, L’ rope, torch, 39cp

Runes:https://i.imgur.com/xGUofHk.jpg
RIP
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 Post subject: Re: Save or die
PostPosted: Thu Mar 03, 2011 2:47 pm 
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GnomeBoy wrote:
The only thing I would add to a Save or Die situation is that if your character does die, you get a Last Gasp maneuver... A chance to do something with the death that could aid your party. Giant tentacle dragging you down into a vast crevasse, never to be heard from again? There's a chance you could drag another of the tentacles with you, by using that chain over your shoulder, and lessen the threat to the survivors -- with a good roll.


When dying a "normal" death, maybe, but what about the enemies? Can they do that too? It would suck for the party. If not, well, then that means the PCs are special somehow, favored by the fate - something I usually don't like. Anyhow, I don't see this work with Save or Die effects. A tentacle dragging you down is not a save or die effect. The deadly venom of a spider, the gaze of the medusa, getting hit by a spell that disintegrates you or stops your heart - these are save or die effects, and they are usually so quick or brutal, that you won't even have time to say "Holy sh*t!", not to speak of attacking!

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 Post subject: Re: Save or die
PostPosted: Thu Mar 03, 2011 2:48 pm 
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GnomeBoy wrote:
The only thing I would add to a Save or Die situation is that if your character does die, you get a Last Gasp maneuver... A chance to do something with the death that could aid your party. Giant tentacle dragging you down into a vast crevasse, never to be heard from again? There's a chance you could drag another of the tentacles with you, by using that chain over your shoulder, and lessen the threat to the survivors -- with a good roll.


I like this, maybe using the Action Dice for one last MDA roll, so it's not automatic.

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 Post subject: Re: Save or die
PostPosted: Thu Mar 03, 2011 4:42 pm 
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Ravenheart87 wrote:
GnomeBoy wrote:
The only thing I would add to a Save or Die situation is that if your character does die, you get a Last Gasp maneuver... A chance to do something with the death that could aid your party. Giant tentacle dragging you down into a vast crevasse, never to be heard from again? There's a chance you could drag another of the tentacles with you, by using that chain over your shoulder, and lessen the threat to the survivors -- with a good roll.


When dying a "normal" death, maybe, but what about the enemies? Can they do that too? It would suck for the party. If not, well, then that means the PCs are special somehow, favored by the fate - something I usually don't like. Anyhow, I don't see this work with Save or Die effects. A tentacle dragging you down is not a save or die effect. The deadly venom of a spider, the gaze of the medusa, getting hit by a spell that disintegrates you or stops your heart - these are save or die effects, and they are usually so quick or brutal, that you won't even have time to say "Holy sh*t!", not to speak of attacking!


Agreed. A the result of a saving throw should be an instant effect.

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"The Black Dougal" (formerly known as dkeester) -- DCCRPG Fan Boy since 2010
DCCRPG PC Death Toll: 25

DCCRPG Playtests: Tacticon 2010, GenghisCon 2011, Tacticon 2011, GenghisCon 2012
Member: The DCC Expendables (Denver, CO)

Doug may very well hold the dubious title of “most DCC RPG PCs lost during the course of convention play.”
--Harley Stroh


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 Post subject: Re: Save or die
PostPosted: Thu Mar 03, 2011 5:31 pm 
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dkeester wrote:
...the result of a saving throw should be an instant effect.

Um, "you see the black energy beam heading straight for you.." "I throw the meteor shard that is the only thing that will open the ancient Doors of Ellerium toward my buddy as the beam turns me to nothingness..."

I like that stuff. And non-mook enemies could do it, too. One last twist of the sword vs. your victory over them makes for good teeth-gnashing memories.

_________________
Gnome Boy • DCC playtester @ DDC 35 Feb '11. • Beta DL 2111, 7AM PT, 8 June 11.
Playing RPGs since '77 • Quasi-occasional member of the Legion of 8th-Level Fighters.

Link: Here Be DCC Monsters

PbP Purple Planeteers!

Havarth • Cleric/Zikcub • Animal trainr • L
S11 A11 S9 P15 I9 L7
AC10, HP12, R0 F1 W2
Glaive+0 1-10
Club+0 1-4
X' chain, sack
Bless, Dtct Ev, Prot fm Evil, Word oCmmnd

Lucius • Cleric/Verlore • Slave • N
S13 A11 S8 P15 I11 L11
AC10+, HP6, R0 F0 W2
Sword+1 _
Club+1 2-5
Hide armor, flint/steel, green stone, oil 1
Crit table +1
Dark, Holy Sanct, Resist Cold/Heat, Word o Cmmnd

Toby • Squire
S13 A10 S14 P15 I16 L9
AC10+, hp3, R0 F1 W1
Lg swrd+1 2-9
Scale armor, sack, helm, L’ rope, torch • Com, Chaos, Hobgob

Kelven • Smuggler
S14 A8 S11 P12 I7 L10
AC9+, hp2(4), In-1, R-1 F0 W0
Sword+1 _
Staff+1 or Sling -1 2-5
Scale armr, waterprf sack, L’ rope, torch, 39cp

Runes:https://i.imgur.com/xGUofHk.jpg
RIP
Stinky Pete, Ostler — Spine snapped by tackling Kith


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 Post subject: Re: Save or die
PostPosted: Thu Mar 03, 2011 5:33 pm 
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Ravenheart87 wrote:
I think Save or Die should be included. DCC is going to be a badass game, not one made for weaklings who need three failed saving throws to die. :lol:
What I never liked is level drain. I have no problem with permanent ability damage, but level draining is simply a pain in the ass. Put in more ways to loose ability scores (monster attacks, critical hits, etc.) or age your character faster (sight or touch of a monster, spell's effect, etc.), but please, leave level drain out.


I'd much rather lose a level than lose an ability point permanently. A level can be regained. A con point is gone forever.


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 Post subject: Re: Save or die
PostPosted: Thu Mar 03, 2011 6:55 pm 
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JRR wrote:
I'd much rather lose a level than lose an ability point permanently. A level can be regained. A con point is gone forever.


Muwahahahaha. Then you'd hate my Energy Drain houserule. Instead of losing a level, an attack that drains a level drops a character one bonus level of CON permanently and ages them (in appearance, just flavor). So if you had 15 CON (at +2 bonus), you'd drop to 12 (+1 bonus).

Saves the chore of dropping a level. But I can't say it's better mechanically than losing a level.

Not sure why I'm sharing this. I guess because it's evil. :twisted:


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 Post subject: Re: Save or die
PostPosted: Thu Mar 03, 2011 7:01 pm 
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JRR wrote:
Ravenheart87 wrote:
I think Save or Die should be included. DCC is going to be a badass game, not one made for weaklings who need three failed saving throws to die. :lol:
What I never liked is level drain. I have no problem with permanent ability damage, but level draining is simply a pain in the ass. Put in more ways to loose ability scores (monster attacks, critical hits, etc.) or age your character faster (sight or touch of a monster, spell's effect, etc.), but please, leave level drain out.


I'd much rather lose a level than lose an ability point permanently. A level can be regained. A con point is gone forever.


I disagree.The very first time we gained a level only to lose it half an hour later my old group house ruled level drain out of the game. I would rather lose the point of con and keep moving forward. I don't want to back track and regain levels. :(

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 Post subject: Re: Save or die
PostPosted: Thu Mar 03, 2011 7:06 pm 
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GnomeBoy wrote:
dkeester wrote:
...the result of a saving throw should be an instant effect.

Um, "you see the black energy beam heading straight for you.." "I throw the meteor shard that is the only thing that will open the ancient Doors of Ellerium toward my buddy as the beam turns me to nothingness..."

I like that stuff. And non-mook enemies could do it, too. One last twist of the sword vs. your victory over them makes for good teeth-gnashing memories.


That is a great situation! I like it! :D It is not a saving throw situation, however.

The saving throw would come when the black energy beam has hit your character. "Ok, you throw the meteor shard at the doors saving your buddy as the beam hits you. Now, roll me a save vs. death for getting hit by the Black Fire of the Twilight Abyss." The effect of the save happens instantly at that point.

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"The Black Dougal" (formerly known as dkeester) -- DCCRPG Fan Boy since 2010
DCCRPG PC Death Toll: 25

DCCRPG Playtests: Tacticon 2010, GenghisCon 2011, Tacticon 2011, GenghisCon 2012
Member: The DCC Expendables (Denver, CO)

Doug may very well hold the dubious title of “most DCC RPG PCs lost during the course of convention play.”
--Harley Stroh


Last edited by Black Dougal on Thu Mar 03, 2011 7:10 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post subject: Re: Save or die
PostPosted: Thu Mar 03, 2011 7:08 pm 
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dkeester wrote:
GnomeBoy wrote:
dkeester wrote:
...the result of a saving throw should be an instant effect.

Um, "you see the black energy beam heading straight for you.." "I throw the meteor shard that is the only thing that will open the ancient Doors of Ellerium toward my buddy as the beam turns me to nothingness..."

I like that stuff. And non-mook enemies could do it, too. One last twist of the sword vs. your victory over them makes for good teeth-gnashing memories.


That is a great situation! I like it! :D It is not a saving throw situation, however.

The saving throw would come when the black energy beam has hit your character. "Ok, you throw the meteor shard at the doors saving your buddy as the beam hits you. Now, roll me a save vs. death for getting hit by the Black Fire of the Twilight Abyss." The effect of the save happens instantly at that point.


Heck, your character might even survive to bear the curse of the Twilight Abyss for the rest of his days. :D

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 Post subject: Re: Save or die
PostPosted: Fri Mar 04, 2011 12:13 pm 
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geordie racer wrote:
'It plays like a 1970s OD&D session.'

Therefore Save or Die is de rigeur, an absolute must. I sometimes leave some clues but not always, sometimes a player has to instinctively know that putting their head into the stone demon's maw on an ill-starred night is a bad idea. Otherwise it's bring on the freaky resurrection rules which surely only work if you have some costly pact with a god/demon.


My earlier post did not come out as well as I would like. I do like save-or-die effects as both a player and a DM. The tension involved with a SoD effect is awesome for both a DM and a player.

The point I was trying to make was to keep that tension level in the game by leaving the effects, but mitigate the change of an actual straight up bad roll to kill the character. The only problem with a d20 system is that it is a linear scale with 5% increments. There is no bell curve/etc. By putting the ruling for multiple failed saves into the spell descriptions you accomplish two goals.

1. Reduce the change of just straight death in combat
2. Provide cinematic or 'appendix N' type effects in spells.

Example (and not a good one as I am drawing a blank right now): A wizards casts flesh to stone on a character. If we have a single saving throw method, then either it is no effect or they are stone.

If we go with a multiple ST method, we can get some cool story type effects in the base rules:

Make first save: No effect
Miss first save, but makes second save: 1/2 movement, 1/2 actions, takes 1/2 damage (two negatives and one positive) for the next rounds = to how much you failed the roll bye
Miss second saving throw: Turned to stone

Please note what I put for one failed save. The spell during lasts as long as the amount they failed the save by. That eliminates having to look up how long a spell lasts when resolving combat effects.

This mechanic would work with Hold Person:

Make first save, effect resisted.
Miss first save, but make second: Slowed for #rounds you missed first save by
Miss both saves: immobilized for # rounds you missed EITHER save by

This makes the spells less effective against high level characters as their Saving Throws increase. The margin of failure would become lower and lower.

The reason I am mentioning this is that you see in classic literature that the Hero gets hit by a spell, but they resist it and slowly break the enchantment and surge back into action. It also brings down the spell caster power curve at higher levels by slowing lowering the durations against their opponents instead of durations that keep growing in length as a caster gains levels (i.e. 1 round/level type stuff).

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 Post subject: Re: Save or die
PostPosted: Fri Mar 04, 2011 12:29 pm 
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Ravenheart87 wrote:
GnomeBoy wrote:
The only thing I would add to a Save or Die situation is that if your character does die, you get a Last Gasp maneuver... A chance to do something with the death that could aid your party. Giant tentacle dragging you down into a vast crevasse, never to be heard from again? There's a chance you could drag another of the tentacles with you, by using that chain over your shoulder, and lessen the threat to the survivors -- with a good roll.


When dying a "normal" death, maybe, but what about the enemies? Can they do that too? It would suck for the party. If not, well, then that means the PCs are special somehow, favored by the fate - something I usually don't like. Anyhow, I don't see this work with Save or Die effects. A tentacle dragging you down is not a save or die effect. The deadly venom of a spider, the gaze of the medusa, getting hit by a spell that disintegrates you or stops your heart - these are save or die effects, and they are usually so quick or brutal, that you won't even have time to say "Holy sh*t!", not to speak of attacking!



I disagree about the tentacle: ever see the film "Dagon"? Okay, it's enough damage to auto-kill, but that's basically what Disintegrate is (or can be). Imagine designing a magical trap where, when triggered, you save or get sucked into the portal by a giant tentacle? This isn't a monster so much as a trap or spell effect (though yeah, it is a monster).

Okay, so part of the save or die mechanic is there, but that Last Gasp rule could come into play for a number of situations: if you're dropped so low that you're going to die, you get one last action. This cannot include an action that would remove you from harm, such as triggering a spell or moving out of the way; it can include an attack, tossing an item or backpack to a companion, breaking a staff of power for a retributive strike, or other similar actions. However, the assumes the completion and acceptance of the effect that kills the PC (crushed by a block, eaten by a dragon, falling in that pit, getting stabbed in the face). Opportunity for a Last Gasp is dependent upon GM approval (ie: won't have time to throw your backpack to the side when the Death Knight swings at you with his Vorpal Sword and cuts your head off).

Meh, could just be a sidebar or houserule, but it's neat. I like it.


The reason I worry is that my players really like their characters. My wife will be upset if her character dies, but I've told them: don't do anything stupid and you'll be fine. (everyone, not just the wife; I try not to use stupid in reference to the wife, and prefer using approval statements of encouragement (social services habit in light of the frequency of clients whose family/partners tear them down with cutting remarks)). I don't know that I've needed to do this sort of thing, as my group is fairly wise re: their actions. Only one of them does truly stupid things, and his characters die fairly quickly as a result.

Speaking of which: advice about death traps? I'm never sure if I'm challenging my players. I worry my traps and predicaments are too easy or predictable. I've *nearly* killed some of them, and had challenging fights with lots on the table at risk. However, I tend to write in ways for them to escape, or things they know not to do. They see things like this coming (ie: the one with the ring of water breathing was the one who got into the locked-room-filling-up-with-water; and I'd put the ring in there hoping someone would find the room and get locked in there).

I figure that's good design, and not everyone would search out the aides I hide elsewhere in the dungeon. Like, I think of some weird places to hide stuff, and they find them, and then use them well.

Hrm... need to fashion another dungeon, see if this continues.


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