Character Death House Rules

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I want character death to be feared and have meaning. However, I don't like to kill off a character someone "loves" and worked hard to put together. So when death rears its ugly head, I was thinking to offer two options. One, a player can choose to die and make a new character if that appeals to them. Two, they receive one of the following penalties (determined randomly on a 1d6 roll):


1-3: lose a random magic item (if none, roll again).


4-5: take on a 4 point saving throw and skill penalty (the saving throw and all skills as associated with a random ability score) until gain 1,000 or your current level x 200 experience points, whichever is greater.  If already currently penalized in this manner roll again.


6: lose the use of a random daily or encounter power (duration same as above and the power can't be retrained until the duration expires and the character levels up again, and if already penalized 1 daily must randomly determine an encounter power or vice-versa).


If already penalized twice, must lose a penalty before gaining another.  All penalties may entail some story explanation/development as well.

Thoughts on the above or other alternatives to character death? 

I have similar concerns.  I do the following.

House Rule: No Raise Dead ritual.  This gets death feared and gives it meaning right away.
Acompanying Pledge: I won't actively try to kill you.  You'll always have a fighting chance, even if that's just a fightin' chance to get away and fight another day(so, no inescapable instant deaths or anything pissy).   
Addendum: If a character dies, and everyone agrees(or at least majority rules) you can go on an epic quest to restore his life, a la Chrono Trigger.

Tends to work out, ime. 
Seriously, though, you should check out the PbP Haven. You might also like Real Adventures, IF you're cool.
Knights of W.T.F.- Silver Spur Winner
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My rules:
1. No Raise Dead ritual or any other way to restore a dead PC.  Dead is dead.
2. Fairly significant changes to the zero HP and death saves mechanics:
a. A PC at zero or fewer HP is 'down', but still conscious.  He can take no actions, but is aware of his surroundings, can see and hear allies, etc.  He still makes 'death saves'.  He can be healed by powers, Heal skill to activate Second Wind, etc.
b. A PC who has failed 3 death saves is 'out cold'.  He's still alive, but cannot be healed until the combat is over.
c. A PC who reaches his negative-bloodied value of HP still dies ... this is about the only way for a PC to die without player consent.
Another day, another three or four entries to my Ignore List.
This has been something that has arisen in my campaign lately. Death was never really an issue, and when it started rearing its head, we were quite surprised.


Our first death happened to minions (spiked chains that draged you away from defenders), in a massive ship battle, during which the ship we were on capsized after he died, and alot of bad stuff happened. Suffice to say, we never found the body to ressurect, the player took it surprisingly well and had a warforged slayer ready for the next session.


Second death happned by someone taunting a giant super dragon that the one of the party members had turned into and lost control. Party went to temple and got her ressurected, all was well, had some RP fun.


This same character later got killed by the Warforged Slayer due to him being Dominated (Slayers are every dominate monster's best friend), due to the events at the time, their employer merely paid for her ressurection, which seemed pretty cheep, but it felt like the whole ressurecting her story was "been there, done that".


During epic boss fight, the party's bard then died, after which the party got control of a Duchy...at which point the money to ressurect seem frivilous.


Afterwards we had a discussion on it, and generally agreed that "epic quest" was generally the best way to go about it provided the player wanted to keep going with that character. The shadowfell is a cool place, and it makes a good reason to explore it.


I prefer making ressurection harder to obtain, rather than penalize.  
In my campaign, the Raise Dead ritual exists but it is only in the hands of NPCs and can only performed in a temple (but not all temples have access to such ritual). Furthermore, the alignment and general behaviour of the character weights in the balance when raising the dead is in question.

For exemple, a temple of Tempus (god of battle) will not accept to resurrect a pacifist character or one who has generally been a coward on the battlefield. In fact the soul of the character is weighted to determine if the resurrection can be possible. So it varies greatly depending on the temple and gods. The character will also have to perform a quest for the clergy that raised him.

But even with this, I impose a penalty. The one described in the rules is not a serious one so I chose to remove all accumulated experience in the current level of the dead character due to the traumatizing experience of dying and being brought back to life. If the character had zero experience in his level, he will revert to his previous level, losing all benefits from the current one.

Of course, a player still have the option to create another charatcer, but the new one will be one level lower than the previous one.

Anyway, characters die rarely in my adventures.
So far everyone is mostly for keeping death as a potentially unavoidable (even if not intentional and increasingly unlikely) outcome.  I prefer to have an alternative outcome rather than leave death unavoidable in any fashion because ultimately the game is about having fun and your character dieing is not fun.  Though choosing death is still an option with me.  Even if you have the possibility of resurrection, a player is still potentially out their character for a number of game sessions.  Besides, allowing for resurrection still means taking the bite out of death and if you allow it for one you should allow it for all.  To me it's fairly black and white in this sense: you either keep death unavoidable to some degree or you don't.  Anyone else prefer to have an alternative outcome to death (or even resurrection) so that it's never unavoidable like myself?  In favor of more or less penalties for such allowances?  If so, I'd like to hear your take on it.
We use it "as is" with a single exception: It can only be performed by priests of the Raven Queen. You need not be a worshiper or even a fan. You just need to pay. So it makes Raise Dead something that takes a side trek to accomplish.
Here are the PHB essentia, in my opinion:
  • Three Basic Rules (p 11)
  • Power Types and Usage (p 54)
  • Skills (p178-179)
  • Feats (p 192)
  • Rest and Recovery (p 263)
  • All of Chapter 9 [Combat] (p 264-295)
A player needs to read the sections for building his or her character -- race, class, powers, feats, equipment, etc. But those are PC-specific. The above list is for everyone, regardless of the race or class or build or concept they are playing.
interesting stuff listed here.  I like Salla's approach the most I think, it gives the player a lot of chances to make it and true death is pretty hard to get to. 

Personally I haven't really given much thought to the death rules as a DM.  I've pretty much stuck to the book with the exception that when I DM for a group of newer players like the one I'm in right now I give everyone a freebie.  Basically you don't actually die the first time and you can just act like nothing really happened, even if you make it to negative bloodied.  Of course I reserve the right to stop abuse if I see any.

As it turns out though last session I would have killed the ranger in my party out-right since I crit him when he had 3 hp left and sent him down past his negative bloodied.  Level 5 at the time.  So even Salla's rules wouldn't have saved him haha.  Oh well, that was his freebie, I'll recommend he switch to his bow or something next time he's at 3 hp instead of running like a maniac into the melee ;)
"Non nobis Domine Sed nomini tuo da gloriam" "I wish for death not because I want to die, but because I seek the war eternal"

IMAGE(http://www.nodiatis.com/pub/19.jpg)

interesting stuff listed here.  I like Salla's approach the most I think, it gives the player a lot of chances to make it and true death is pretty hard to get to. 

Personally I haven't really given much thought to the death rules as a DM.  I've pretty much stuck to the book with the exception that when I DM for a group of newer players like the one I'm in right now I give everyone a freebie.  Basically you don't actually die the first time and you can just act like nothing really happened, even if you make it to negative bloodied.  Of course I reserve the right to stop abuse if I see any.

As it turns out though last session I would have killed the ranger in my party out-right since I crit him when he had 3 hp left and sent him down past his negative bloodied.  Level 5 at the time.  So even Salla's rules wouldn't have saved him haha.  Oh well, that was his freebie, I'll recommend he switch to his bow or something next time he's at 3 hp instead of running like a maniac into the melee ;)



I DMed a 1st level game recently. A small party, only 3 people. There was a Fighter, Assassin, and a Cleric. I had the Assassin in the corner of a room with 1 hp, blinded, and surrounded by a couple goblins, the fighter well past bloodied and taking on the goblin witch doctor, and the cleric dead on the ground from a critical drake bite. This was with no fudged rolls or anything. They survived in the end thanks to some quick thinking, and some tactics. But I think they got the message that death could be quick, and very easily obtained. 

Come to 4ENCLAVE for a fan based 4th Edition Community.

 

interesting stuff listed here.  I like Salla's approach the most I think, it gives the player a lot of chances to make it and true death is pretty hard to get to. 

Personally I haven't really given much thought to the death rules as a DM.  I've pretty much stuck to the book with the exception that when I DM for a group of newer players like the one I'm in right now I give everyone a freebie.  Basically you don't actually die the first time and you can just act like nothing really happened, even if you make it to negative bloodied.  Of course I reserve the right to stop abuse if I see any.

As it turns out though last session I would have killed the ranger in my party out-right since I crit him when he had 3 hp left and sent him down past his negative bloodied.  Level 5 at the time.  So even Salla's rules wouldn't have saved him haha.  Oh well, that was his freebie, I'll recommend he switch to his bow or something next time he's at 3 hp instead of running like a maniac into the melee ;)



I DMed a 1st level game recently. A small party, only 3 people. There was a Fighter, Assassin, and a Cleric. I had the Assassin in the corner of a room with 1 hp, blinded, and surrounded by a couple goblins, the fighter well past bloodied and taking on the goblin witch doctor, and the cleric dead on the ground from a critical drake bite. This was with no fudged rolls or anything. They survived in the end thanks to some quick thinking, and some tactics. But I think they got the message that death could be quick, and very easily obtained. 



Oh! Forgot about the OP! About my death rules I pretty much go by the book but I cut the saving throws down to two, and instead of bloodied HP and your dead, I use the following:



  • Heroic Tier: Con score + HP per level

  • Paragon Tier: Con Score + HP per level x 2

  • Epic Tier: Con score + HP per level x 3  


Example: If you were a level 12 wizard and you had a Con score of 14, instead of negative bloodied it would be 14 + (4 x 2) = 22.

Come to 4ENCLAVE for a fan based 4th Edition Community.

 

1-3: lose a random magic item (if none, roll again).

4-5: take on a 4 point saving throw and skill penalty (the saving throw and all skills as associated with a random ability score) until gain 1,000 or your current level x 200 experience points, whichever is greater.


That doesn't seem hugely different from the standard "lose 500 gp and –1 to all rolls until you reach three milestones".

My own house rule is that the player can refluff the description of 'death' (without changing the mechanics) to be more akin to 'severely wounded': i.e. the PC's injuries are severe enough to prevent him from taking actions until he can access some stronger, costly (500gp) healing (which could even represent say, surgery if you want a low magic feel).
I'd like to preface that this houserule won't appeal to most players -

On a character death, you roll a random race/class and that is your next character.

In our current campaign we are the vanguard of a force of about 50, representing most of the races in a bid to end the tyrannical reign of some major nasties. When one of our characters dies, another one ports in to join us as we continue delving deeper into the nefarious depths of our BBEGs' dungeons.

In another campaign, (Dark Sun) we each represented aspects of a fallen god and only together could we bring him (Moradin) back into the world. So if you died and rerolled, you had to survive four sessions at the end of which we were able to reconnect your body and your spirit and get you back to your original form.


While this isn't everyone's cup of tea, it's amusing to share a table with a Shade Wiz/Cleric, a Dwarven Bladesinger, and a Goblin Invoker!
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