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D&D 5e Discussion

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Posts

  • SUPERSUGASUPERSUGA Registered User regular
    edited March 2012
    Completely random, arbitrary death isn't a very good way to go about it as a GM. Of course, if you're running something like the Tomb of Horrors there's only so much the GM can do to make that fun.

    As a general guide I have this passage in my game document:
    A Note on Risk
    Generally the Referee should make the players aware if they are taking a risk. A game should have surprises, but players should feel that their decisions in the game have led to the risk that lead to the nasty surprise.
    For example, when the characters encounter a monster or hazard that is very likely to be able to kill them outright, the Referee should ensure that the players know this is a possibility. If they want to hack down a door with axes they should know the noise is likely to alert anyone nearby. Assessing the risk against the possible reward is an important part of the game, so the players should always have what they need to make an informed choice.

    I do think sometimes a slightly immersion breaking "guys, just so you know, if this giant turtle bites you there's a really high chance you'll die" is worth doing if you're running a dangerous game but want it to feel fair. As always, this is a balancing act, as you shouldn't have to warn your players about things like running low on HP.

    I use a similar philosophy for traps. They'll always be spotted unless the characters are running, visually impaired or distracted. No spear traps for massive damage out of nowhere, you'll only trigger them through further lack of caution.

    SUPERSUGA on
  • Undead ScottsmanUndead Scottsman THANOSCOPTOR Registered User regular
    edited March 2012
    Infidel wrote: »
    My point I guess is this:

    You either are playing your game where you want character death or you don't.

    Or you're like me where player death shouldn't be something that comes from "I rolled a one on a random encounter, so now I'm dead." Dying from something significant, like a major plot event or the battle with the big-bad? Sure, that's A-OK. Dying after a long battle where the enemy just wore you down enough to take you out? Okay, sure, that's what happens in combat.

    Dying because I failed my roll against sleep against some random encounter Ogre-Magi and then got coup-de-graced by an invisible one before my group had enough time to determine I was asleep and then try to wake me? Fucking sucks ass, because now not only did that completely bench me for that entire fight, but now I'm 7,000 gold poorer and stuck with a negative level for a week. If I had to generate an entirely new character I probably would have quit playing, as I did not have it in me to produce a character with that in-depth of a background anytime soon. Especially if it could have been eaten by the harsh mistress of the save-or-die effect that easily.

    Save or suck effects are not terribly enjoyable for me. I would not mind keeping with 4th editions tactics requiring multiple rolls to permanently screw you over.

    Undead Scottsman on
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  • bssbss BIBIBABIBABIBUBIII Madison, WIRegistered User regular
    Infidel wrote: »
    My point I guess is this:

    You either are playing your game where you want character death or you don't.

    Or you're like me where player death shouldn't be something that comes from "I rolled a one on a random encounter, so now I'm dead." Dying from something significant, like a major plot event or the battle with the big-bad? Sure, that's A-OK. Dying after a long battle where the enemy just wore you down enough to take you out? Okay, sure, that's what happens in combat.

    This is what I was waiting until I got home from work to say. Death in D&D is fine. Sometimes even great, if you make it part of the story. The other times, well, the impact comes down to setting flavor and/or the DM's view on resurrection and/or the DM's allowance of "Bob II". Certainly the game has enough consideration around death that the game itself isn't broken when a PC dies.

    But, arbitrary death is just annoying. The players know it's arbitrary and unless they want distinctly that kind of play, they are put off by the knowledge that all they did was piss off the random number generator. It's also something vindictive DMs hide behind, which is no better. While we got off on an interesting tangent, it's just a tangent. What is unattractive about "save or die" is that it is, at its most basic form, "you have a 5% chance of dying this moment" --- the player has no material control over it.

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  • AbbalahAbbalah Registered User regular
    hippofant wrote: »
    Abbalah wrote:
    Secondly, if your players are losing fights so often that you run through the three examples I just listed top-of-head AND the other dozen or so major permutations thereof in the course of a single campaign, maybe the problem has more to do with the tuning of your encounters than the way you deal with player defeat.

    It's not that every fight is being lost. It's that every fight has to have a backup plan in case they lose.

    Well, sure. But there are a ton of behind-the-scenes tricks that can be used to get this done without the players being aware of and thus de-immersed by it. "Your posse saves you" can be the backup plan for every single fight, until they actually lose one and you expend it. If you write them well enough, they'll be broad enough to apply to a whole range of situations and you can pick one that fits and then cross it off the list of available plans. Assuming you're tuning your encounters correctly, it'll only come up when they get significantly unlucky, which by definition should be a statistically very small percentage of the time.
    And it's not even that, because sometimes they win the fight but some people still "die", and in proposing a system where there's no death.... That's a LOT of DMing work, and to a certain extent, if encountered repeatedly, it will again seem to be just DM fiat.

    This scenario is probably a lot more common than a TPK, but also doesn't really require this approach - unless you specifically want the monsters to go after downed PCs (which really should be the exception rather than the rule) they'll stop attacking someone once they drop unconscious, before they die. Hell, the entire 'drop unconscious at 0' mechanic is essentially the same thing I'm advocating here - it's a piece of metagamey DM fiat allows your guy to 'lose' the fight without being killed. It's not like "take a nap" is actually the logical likely outcome of being repeatedly stabbed or whatever.
    I'm not saying character death is essential for every campaign - I've tried to run a campaign before where the heroes worked for the God of the Dead, so death just sent them back to Go - but its presence in the majority of campaigns is reasoned and purposeful.

    I mean, ultimately I'm not saying characters should never die, either. I'm saying they should never die randomly to no-name mooks or bad luck - by definition, unreasoned, unpurposed death.


    Re: Supersuga

    Yeah, I had the word 'punish' in quotes because I don't really feel that's what you should be looking to do, but do feel that's what a lot of people are talking about when they talk about 'consequences'. The point I was making is that if you're looking for a way to enforce "you lost, bad things happen," there are valid ways to do that which do not require character death.

    And as far as good stories arising from player death, they absolutely can when that death is purposeful or narratively compelling. They generally don't when the death comes from a shitty roll of the dice. In regard to the players 'not being the heroes' until they actually win, that's something I disagree on and probably a major reason for the difference in our viewpoints - The books themselves pretty specifically state that the players are playing heroes, not mooks, and I take the view that the story (and the DM) should accept that that's what the players are supposed to be; they're remarkable, they're unusual, they're special, and they're the main characters in the story you are playing through.

  • hippofanthippofant Registered User regular
    Abbalah wrote:
    I mean, ultimately I'm not saying characters should never die, either. I'm saying they should never die randomly to no-name mooks or bad luck - by definition, unreasoned, unpurposed death.

    I agree, although it sure is fucking funny. KOBOLDS WIN!!! :rotate:

  • AbbalahAbbalah Registered User regular
    hippofant wrote: »
    Abbalah wrote:
    I mean, ultimately I'm not saying characters should never die, either. I'm saying they should never die randomly to no-name mooks or bad luck - by definition, unreasoned, unpurposed death.

    I agree, although it sure is fucking funny. KOBOLDS WIN!!! :rotate:

    I write a post that long and then find out you agree with me? I feel...robbed

    Directing us back towards the theoretical topic, save or dies are stupid and terrible and the design team is terrible for even considering bringing them back.

    4e has what is probably the best approach - instead of one save, you get three over the course of three turns, usually with an increasing scale of worsening effects (slowed->immobilized->petrified, for example), which reduces the variance involved and gives you and the party time to react to solve the problem. Allows you to create threatening monsters which inflict unusual, deadly effects that change the tenor of the fight without requiring a huge element of luck to be involved.

    It also, as a rule, does not hit you with a given final effect until you are at a level where you can reasonably fix the problem (for a cost) even after failing all the saves - things don't petrify until you have access to rituals that un-petrify, they don't kill until after you have access to resurrection rituals (or usually even until after you have a power that says 'once per day, when you die...'), they don't destroy items until after you have Enchant Item, etc. This is probably also an important part of having severely threatening effects without them being capricious bullshit: Even if you totally botch all your random rolls, you can still undo the effect for a cost.

  • SkyCaptainSkyCaptain Registered User regular
    Meh. Every encounter should be dangerous and deadly or else the players may not realize that this "random" encounter is more than just that and they might take risks they wouldn't have otherwise. Sometimes life kicks your ass and you make a new character.

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  • ThemindtakerThemindtaker Registered User regular
    SkyCaptain wrote: »
    Meh. Every encounter should be dangerous and deadly or else the players may not realize that this "random" encounter is more than just that and they might take risks they wouldn't have otherwise. Sometimes life kicks your ass and you make a new character.

    I think it varies depending on the game you're playing. Especially for a 4E game, where the DMG and PHB go out and say that your level 1 characters are already heroic and way tougher than your average person, the idea that by the time your group has gotten the hang of things that they might get a little relaxed when faced with a group of minions isn't a bad thing - you can make the fights more interesting using terrain or powers that require a thoughtful approach (those goblin priests and their clouds of ridiculous blinding, as an example) without trying to kill them, and you can keep groups on their toes in other ways. Wondrous and haunted items can be one way to handle that. Making things time-sensitive can also be an interesting mechanic; I had a group in pursuit get ambushed by their quarry's allies, and for every round over 3 (it was all minions) that they took dispatching the ambush they earned penalties to their ability to find the guy when they were done.

    We (this thread) keep just restating the same things with different words - some of us think that death happens, so it should be a part of the game to make it feel more immersive and lend real risk and validity to the dangers with which we are presented. While some of us are less interested in realism and more interested in escapist entertainment that involves punching orcs in the face and telling a collaborative tale about a group of heroes punching orcs in their faces. And some of us are some combination of the two. Nothing wrong with that.

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  • Jam WarriorJam Warrior Registered User regular
    And 5e rules will fully encompass all those viewpoints and more! Simultaneously!

    If your fighter wants to be playing a gritty lethal game while your wizard wants to be an immortal superman then we can't see why those can't both be options for them if they pick the rules modules they want. We'll just balance the two by [mumble mumble mumble] and everyone will be happy!
    Spoiler:

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  • SUPERSUGASUPERSUGA Registered User regular
    I do think a lot of the differences between these playstyles could be modelled by rolling first level back to a deadly (and yes, without the right GM, unfair) game of survival and have the "heroic tier" start somewhere around Level 3. You coming to the game from 4e and want to start with heroic characters? Start at Level 3!

    I don't think there's ever been anything stopping people starting their game above level 1, but it never quite felt like it was presented as a legitimate option. Quick change of how that option is presented in the books and you could take a (small) step towards pleasing both 0e and 4e players.

    Having them be pleased at the same time? I'm hoping to be convinced.

  • SkyCaptainSkyCaptain Registered User regular
    I just think that if you want to tell a consistent story about a single group of characters, you should write a story. The allure of playing characters in an rpg, for me, is the element of risk and chance. The option to do whatever it is you want to do and try to succeed. I don't want to waltz through a dozen worthless encounters because I know I'm not going to die. I want every encounter to be a risk.

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  • SUPERSUGASUPERSUGA Registered User regular
    edited March 2012
    I think this quote can't be stressed enough.
    SkyCaptain wrote: »
    We (this thread) keep just restating the same things with different words - some of us think that death happens, so it should be a part of the game to make it feel more immersive and lend real risk and validity to the dangers with which we are presented. While some of us are less interested in realism and more interested in escapist entertainment that involves punching orcs in the face and telling a collaborative tale about a group of heroes punching orcs in their faces. And some of us are some combination of the two. Nothing wrong with that.

    So I guess we just have to accept that some D&D players want this.
    SkyCaptain wrote: »
    I just think that if you want to tell a consistent story about a single group of characters, you should write a story. The allure of playing characters in an rpg, for me, is the element of risk and chance. The option to do whatever it is you want to do and try to succeed. I don't want to waltz through a dozen worthless encounters because I know I'm not going to die. I want every encounter to be a risk.

    And some D&D players want this.
    Abbalah wrote:
    The books themselves pretty specifically state that the players are playing heroes, not mooks, and I take the view that the story (and the DM) should accept that that's what the players are supposed to be; they're remarkable, they're unusual, they're special, and they're the main characters in the story you are playing through.

    Now to sit back and watch WotC find a way to make these two players happy in the same game.


    SUPERSUGA on
  • NealnealNealneal Registered User regular
    edited March 2012
    That's fine for you, but you have to be willing to understand that there are many other folks who don't play the same way you do. That doesn't mean they should just go find another system or "just write a story" because they're using the game in a different way.

    Nealneal on
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  • bssbss BIBIBABIBABIBUBIII Madison, WIRegistered User regular
    Nealneal wrote: »
    That's fine for you, but you have to be willing to understand that there are many other folks who don't play the same way you do. That doesn't mean they should just go find another system or "just write a story" because they're using the game in a different way.

    Agreed to a degree, but there comes a point that what you want is fighting too much against your edition of choice. For example, 4e PCs are way harder to kill than 3e's. More recovery options, refusal of save or die effects, and so on. It's almost as if the game implicitly said "if you like 3e's lethality, you should play 3e, 4e can't be everything".

    What a bunch of cards.

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  • NealnealNealneal Registered User regular
    That's probably why we prefer 4e. Folks don't die because an orc with a great axe crit them (or a house cat in the case of wizards) in the first game. I find that preferable, but I recognize that not everyone wants what I want.

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  • SUPERSUGASUPERSUGA Registered User regular
    I think we can all agree that death by housecat is lame.

    The standard 3e Monster Maunal Orc greataxing people to death at first level is perhaps more of an unfortunate misrepresentation of Orcs. Either they should be subhuman mooks (in which case they're too powerful in the MM) or they're big tough guys that axe people to death all day long (in which case they should be represented as scary foes rather than things for level 1 guys to stand toe to toe with).

    As far as my preferences go I do think the one-hit-kill monster is pretty lame at any level if it doesn't carry a proper warning. Getting one-shotted by the guy you assume you're meant to be fighting isn't quite right. Dying to a giant's club in one hit isn't so bad because, well, that guy is twenty feet tall so you sort of knew a hit from his club would mean death. Probably should have worked out a way to defeat it without getting in a position where it can squash me.

  • HorseshoeHorseshoe Registered User regular
    edited March 2012
    SkyCaptain wrote: »
    I just think that if you want to tell a consistent story about a single group of characters, you should write a story. The allure of playing characters in an rpg, for me, is the element of risk and chance.

    I just think that if you want the element of risk and chance you should find a craps table.

    Horseshoe on
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  • HorseshoeHorseshoe Registered User regular
    This is not what I actually think, SC.

    It is how incredibly silly you appear when you say things like that.

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  • SUPERSUGASUPERSUGA Registered User regular
    edited March 2012
    I just looked up how Pathfinder handled the one-hit-kill Orc issue and I find this.

    I'm not all that interested in "monster balance" but 3e and Pathfinder are claiming it as a feature, so I guess I have to look at this monster as if it's there for Level 1 PCs to fight.

    Should this monster really be causing an average of 9 points of damage on a hit? Should it be causing criticals on 18+ for 18 damage? Can a Level 1 character even have that many HP?

    Yes, some monsters should be able to do that, but the monster called Common Orc? What 3e party is going to approach a couple of these guys

    Edit: Reminded myself of the dying rules in 3e. Guess I forgot that going to 0hp isn't all that bad. Probably not as big of an issue as I thought.

    SUPERSUGA on
  • ThemindtakerThemindtaker Registered User regular
    edited March 2012
    SkyCaptain wrote: »
    I just think that if you want to tell a consistent story about a single group of characters, you should write a story.
    In my experience, D&D is wonderful because of its unique ability to experience a single, unique, and relatively consistent (DM swapping, characters coming and going can change this) story that is borne from a collection of people, rather than one person sitting down to write a story. The interactivity is what makes it so much more compelling an experience than just writing down your own material (and why DMs who are more concerned with telling their fan fiction than building a collaborative story/world are so irksome to me).

    You can't get that in any other media; most are passive, not interactive (TV, movies, books), video games are too structured in that despite an illusion of freedom, you're always playing the game someone else made (unless you're RPing in an open-world MMO but even then you have almost no freedom for game design, world design, and effect on the world), LARPing is restricted by physical laws and geography, and I can't even think of another interactive venue for storytelling worth including.

    I'm not saying your way of playing magic dwarves and elves is wrong. It's totally valid, awesome, and it is the right way for you to play.

    I'm just trying to make clear why I don't think the story-valued playstyle should be dismissed in so curt a manner. It is the right way for me to play.

    There is no wrong way to play.
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    Themindtaker on
    Horseshoe wrote: »
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  • DenadaDenada Registered User regular
    edited March 2012
    I just started playing in a Pathfinder game. I'm having fun because I'm playing with my friends and they're fun to play with, but 3.P is still just as convoluted and lethal as 3.X was. Two of our PCs almost died in the first encounter, from one attack. Oh, and one the PCs was missed by that attack and still almost died.

    Denada on
  • SkyCaptainSkyCaptain Registered User regular
    Horseshoe wrote: »
    This is not what I actually think, SC.

    It is how incredibly silly you appear when you say things like that.

    Yeah, because losing real money is such a GREAT analogy for losing a character. Characters die, even in stories. Just ask George R.R. Martin.
    SUPERSUGA wrote: »
    I just looked up how Pathfinder handled the one-hit-kill Orc issue and I find this.

    I'm not all that interested in "monster balance" but 3e and Pathfinder are claiming it as a feature, so I guess I have to look at this monster as if it's there for Level 1 PCs to fight. Should this monster really be causing an average of 9 points of damage on a hit? Should it be causing criticals on 18+ for 18 damage? Can a Level 1 character even have that many HP? Yes, some monsters should be able to do that, but the monster called Common Orc? What 3e party is going to approach a couple of these guys

    Edit: Reminded myself of the dying rules in 3e. Guess I forgot that going to 0hp isn't all that bad. Probably not as big of an issue as I thought.

    Those orcs are awesome and make them a great threat to organized, standing armies.

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  • VanguardVanguard Drive your cart and your plow over the bones of the dead. Registered User, __BANNED USERS regular
    edited March 2012
    SUPERSUGA wrote: »
    I just looked up how Pathfinder handled the one-hit-kill Orc issue and I find this.

    I'm not all that interested in "monster balance" but 3e and Pathfinder are claiming it as a feature, so I guess I have to look at this monster as if it's there for Level 1 PCs to fight.

    Should this monster really be causing an average of 9 points of damage on a hit? Should it be causing criticals on 18+ for 18 damage? Can a Level 1 character even have that many HP?

    Yes, some monsters should be able to do that, but the monster called Common Orc? What 3e party is going to approach a couple of these guys

    Edit: Reminded myself of the dying rules in 3e. Guess I forgot that going to 0hp isn't all that bad. Probably not as big of an issue as I thought.

    With a 20 Con, and Toughness, a Barbarian would have 20 HP. Any d10 Hit Die classes would be at 18.

    Also, your party is being outsped by multiple Orcs? Not likely, even at 1st level. Chances are, your martial characters are going to be getting about the same +5 to their attack rolls. The difference? Your party is likely to have AC ~18 whereas the Orcs only have a 13. That's a 40% likelihood of the Orcs even hitting your guys. Your party will hit 60% of the time.

    So it's still dangerous, and, with some truly awful rolls, could be lethal. But I think that a party of four could reasonably kill a party of four Orcs without any casualties most of the time.

    To further elaborate on the whole combat simulator vs. storytelling system, D&D heavily favors the former. It could just as easily go the other way, but I think the ruleset encourages more crunchy play.

    Vanguard on
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  • BrainleechBrainleech Registered User regular
    A few weeks ago I looked at pathfinder and saw ALL the books for it.

    Most of the time when I have dealt with orcs in D&D is stragglers, looters and scouts not the army itself just to show what a threat they were

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  • SUPERSUGASUPERSUGA Registered User regular
    For D&D I mostly prefer hunched, scrawny orcs (Mordor-brand) rather than the big, tough savage (Isengard-brand).

    Of course, your games get a whole lot more interesting if you replace orcs with a primitive human culture.

  • valiancevaliance Registered User regular
    I think player death is interesting when it's both fair and avoidable. In a recent session my party and I found a dragon sleeping at the bottom of a tower and opted to turn the fuck around and go find something else to fight. Had we decided to fight it and I died, I wouldn't have been mad at the GM. We chose that! Or chose to risk it anyway...

    I think combat is an inherently risky endeavour, and death should remain a possible outcome. If you don't want to die to random orc mobs--don't fight them. I think RPGs and novels are different, and you should let the dice fall where they may once the dice start rolling. It's the GMs job to fudge things before that--be fair to the players in terms of available information, remind them of things they've forgotten etc. But once the dice come out, it is what it is IMO. That's what keeps the tension there. The idea that you can not only fail, but fail permanently. I had a lot of fun fighting giant killer bees and spear throwing goblins as a level one fighter. Those are not epic enemies necessarily--they're mooks in a story sense (killer bees can fly, outrun a man in plate, and make save or die poison attacks, yikes!). But this isn't a novel. Your story might really end here. You don't know if you're Kirk or a redshirt until after the dice are rolled. Me living through that is part of my story now.

    I think the story being made is both collaborative and partially extemporaneous. Let's go here and do this, let's go here and do that. So the GM doesn't have an overarching story he's running us through, we make the story through our actions and dice rolls. A few bad rolls against a wight dropped our level 6 fighter down to level 4! Which laid a seed for our next adventure--finding a cleric with a restore spell to get him a level back. That's the kind of thing I think is really cool which is impossible in a story on rails.

  • SUPERSUGASUPERSUGA Registered User regular
    The blogosphere continues to rumble on the topic of Save or Die.

    This post links to some other bloggers' comments on the matter and presents what should be an interesting read to people on both sides of the debate. I think the following quote is worth considering, in particular.
    My position now is that rolling a saving throw means you have already done something wrong. The save is a second chance, and the alternative is to just die.

    This might seem like a jab at players, but it's much much more important for GMs to remember this. If you call for a Save or Die and you can't point to what the player did wrong then you, as a GM, have made the mistake.

  • lowlylowlycooklowlylowlycook Registered User regular
    Well save or die isn't just about killing PCs, it also goes back to the imbalance between spellcasters and the rest, no?

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  • InfidelInfidel Too easy. PiltoverRegistered User regular
    SUPERSUGA wrote: »
    The blogosphere continues to rumble on the topic of Save or Die.

    This post links to some other bloggers' comments on the matter and presents what should be an interesting read to people on both sides of the debate. I think the following quote is worth considering, in particular.
    My position now is that rolling a saving throw means you have already done something wrong. The save is a second chance, and the alternative is to just die.

    This might seem like a jab at players, but it's much much more important for GMs to remember this. If you call for a Save or Die and you can't point to what the player did wrong then you, as a GM, have made the mistake.

    I agree that Save or Die without any precursor or chance at avoidance is bullshit.

    But this is entirely what you get with Save or Die as D&D is putting forth, as a relic where certain monsters are designed that way and the Save or Die comes through no fault of the players other than having engaged in combat.

    If that is a mistake, then the mistake is using those monsters at all right? Which leads to "well don't use them" which means "don't use Save or Dies." :rotate:

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  • SUPERSUGASUPERSUGA Registered User regular
    There's no question that a GM needs to be good to get the most out of D&D. With some versions the GM needs to be good for the thing to be playable.

    I'm not sure if any version of the game has given the GM all of the advice he needs to run things well out of the box, which is a shame.

  • DextolenDextolen Registered User
    3.x and 4E both were much better in terms of packaging up the game into a product someone could buy off the shelf and actually play without being taught by an existing player. The 4E DMG's (especially DMG2) are very well written and really provide a new DM with a great start towards being a good DM.

  • Undead ScottsmanUndead Scottsman THANOSCOPTOR Registered User regular
    edited March 2012
    SkyCaptain wrote: »
    Meh. Every encounter should be dangerous and deadly or else the players may not realize that this "random" encounter is more than just that and they might take risks they wouldn't have otherwise. Sometimes life kicks your ass and you make a new character.

    That would comforting if I was playing a life simulation. I am not: I'm playing a game, primarily to have fun. Thus I dislike things I don't find fun (such as save-or-die effects in minor encounters).

    If I die due to failing the game that is one thing. If I die to an single arbitrary roll of the dice that I had no way of altering the circumstances of, I'm not going to fun that fun.

    Undead Scottsman on
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  • SUPERSUGASUPERSUGA Registered User regular
    If I die due to failing the game that is one thing. If I die to an single arbitrary roll of the dice that I had no way of altering the circumstances of, I'm not going to fun that fun.
    The key is to remove the arbitrary factor and the sense that you had no agency in the death. Make saves a result of poor or risky decision, not something out of the players' control.

  • valiancevaliance Registered User regular
    I like save or die. I would (if such a thing isn't already done) require a to hit roll THEN a save or die on many attacks (the ones amenable to amelioration by armor, dodging, deflecting, etc.

  • AbbalahAbbalah Registered User regular
    Requiring you to roll badly twice doesn't actually solve the fundamental problem, which is that you're risking death due to simple luck. Admitting that save or die should be ameliorated by additional rolls but ONLY involving more dice and nothing else is admitting that the system is problematic and then not fixing the problem.

    Ultimately the diagnosis that 'save or die' is problematic because there's a lack of player agency is probably correct, but any solution that actually fixes the problem boils down to 'don't use save or dies' - if you have to drop half a dozen caveats onto it, so that they only get hit with a save or die if they make a tactical error, and only if you telegraph it first, and only below an HP threshold, and they have to get hit first and then make a save and then they get a backup save unless it's a new moon, you're not actually utilizing the save or die mechanic, and you're not using a better, more effective mechanic, either; you're seeing the problem with the mechanic and then shackling yourself to it anyway with some frankenstein hodgepodge of clauses and mercy rules as a justification for doing so.

    At some point it becomes a lot more straightforward to just admit that if repairing the car requires you to replace every single part, you might as well just buy a different car.

  • LeztaLezta Registered User regular
    There's nothing wrong with Save or Die, unless you're playing a game where the only thing that matters is the mechanics - and then suddenly, yes, it is awful.

    To use the popular medusa/basilisk example - if your players just wander up to these creatures and don't take any precautions (especially in the case of a Medusa, where near everyone knows their gaze turns people to stone) like, I don't know, mirrored shields or blindfolds, then, yeah, fuck 'em, they're going to turn to stone. Save or Die effects don't ruin stories - they help create them. How do you learn that Medusa has that powerful ability (presuming you don't just meta-game, which would be bad - don't do that!) and what do you do to overcome it? If you look at the greek myths (filled with all the great and powerful heroes that everyone is saying SoD stops you being able to play as) they're filled with this stuff.

    I don't think SoD is a bad thing. I think with a terrible DM who just throws a random encounter with them in at you, then, yes, they're crap. But powerful, instadeath, abilities like this carry weight and that weight enables dramatic and exciting stories.

  • ArcanisTheImpotentArcanisTheImpotent Registered User regular
    edited March 2012
    so why do you need Save or Die mechanics then if these bad powers are being used as plot devices

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  • SUPERSUGASUPERSUGA Registered User regular
    Abbalah wrote: »
    Requiring you to roll badly twice doesn't actually solve the fundamental problem, which is that you're risking death due to simple luck. Admitting that save or die should be ameliorated by additional rolls but ONLY involving more dice and nothing else is admitting that the system is problematic and then not fixing the problem.

    I agree 100%. The Saving Throw is enough rolling for these cases. Avoiding a horrible death isn't something that should happen by just rolling more dice.
    Abbalah wrote: »
    Ultimately the diagnosis that 'save or die' is problematic because there's a lack of player agency is probably correct, but any solution that actually fixes the problem boils down to 'don't use save or dies' - if you have to drop half a dozen caveats onto it, so that they only get hit with a save or die if they make a tactical strategic error, and only if you telegraph it first, and only below an HP threshold, and they have to get hit first and then make a save and then they get a backup save unless it's a new moon, you're not actually utilizing the save or die mechanic, and you're not using a better, more effective mechanic, either; you're seeing the problem with the mechanic and then shackling yourself to it anyway with some frankenstein hodgepodge of clauses and mercy rules as a justification for doing so.

    My addition in bold and struck out the caveats I don't think are necessary. Now you're just left with two things to remember when using these effects.

    Don't throw Save or Die effects out there without warning and give players a chance to avoid them once they see the risk is there, it's as simple as that. Draw the players' attention to the scorpion's stinger that the characters know will kill with a single jab, maybe they should run away or scare it off with fire. Fill the medusa's lair with statues and don't just throw her in as a random encounter in an unrelated location, smart players will work out a way to avoid the gaze. Signpost the poison dart trap with an obvious mechanism and provide room for the players to be able to think their way around it. It's pretty straightforward once you get into the right frame of mind as a GM.
    Abbalah wrote: »
    At some point it becomes a lot more straightforward to just admit that if repairing the car requires you to replace every single part, you might as well just buy a different car.

    This comment could really open some floodgates...

  • LeztaLezta Registered User regular
    edited March 2012
    so why do you need Save or Die mechanics then if these bad powers are being used as plot devices


    I'd say because a consistent mechanic is useful and prevents players feeling like they had no chance at all to change their destinies. Say the players ignored all the warnings the world threw at them; say they've brazenly wandered into the Medusa's lair. Suddenly(!) they see the a shine and glint as they catch the Medusa's eyes! Rolling dice (and this is why I really miss saving throws) gives players a feeling their helping control their characters destinies. Do they look away in time? (in the case of a Medusas gaze) or do they dodge the Beholders disintegration ray? Yes, you could have those as simple defenses but taking away player 'control' (and honestly, I'm using the term pretty loosely) diminishes their sense of immersion and doesn't create the same excitement or tension.

    No, I'm not advocating using these cheaply and I think such a powerful thing should be used cautiously and sparingly. You've got to signpost these enemies and build up their threat so player's don't just wander in unprepared. But the mechanic is fine. The mechanic can be really good, in fact.

    Lezta on
  • ArcanisTheImpotentArcanisTheImpotent Registered User regular
    edited March 2012
    how is an arbitrary dice roll providing more agency/control than an arbitrary "You Are Dead" statement from the GM though

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