Giving the Tweaks to the Players

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The general consensus is that GMs prefer not to fudge rolls or tweak encounters, but does running a let-the-dice-fall-where-they-may game risk torpedoing an entire campaign because of one bad fight? Centauri advocates sidestepping this by always giving the monsters a goal other than "kill the players", but others have reasonably pointed out that doesn't always make sense or is feasible. Yet I haven't seen anyone give a good solution about how you can run a no-tweaks campaign with potential-TPK encounters without causing a TPK on the first fight the PCs lose.

The argument against tweaking an encounter is that if the GM's willing to tweak one encounter to save the PCs, he's willing to tweak them all, thus completely removing any sense of risk from the campaign. Yet the alternative is to GM (and play) without any safety net whatsoever; the first fatal mistake by the party will likely be their last. The only options are extremes: either you have infinite safety nets or none. Where's the middle ground? Where's the limited number of safety nets that saves the PCs a few times, yet still provides tension and a reason not to screw up too much?

I don't think that can be solved from the GM's side. I think we need to approach that problem from the other direction.

Power to the Players

The basis of these "saves" is giving the players control over when to ratchet down an encounter's difficulty, rather than the GM. This serves four purposes:


  • By giving the players a running count of how often they can pull these off, they can be saved from a bad encounter while still keeping the tension high. They're aware they can only pull these off a limited number of times, and there's still the risk they'll run out of "saves" and TPK for good.

  • Setting them up ahead of time makes them a Chekov's Gun rather than a Deus Ex Machina, which most players will find easier to swallow than whatever hastily-made justification a GM gives for suddenly making an encounter easier.

  • Giving players control of it makes them feel empowered; if the GM decides when to do it, it makes them feel weak & unworthy of continuing. This helps them get through a known "save" without feeling completely demoralized.

  • Gives the GM some leeway to try risky or challenging kill-or-be-killed encounters without torpedoing the entire campaign if the PCs can't handle one of them.


I've divided these up into 3 categories based on their usefulness, from "give the PCs a much-needed edge" to "completely obliterate the opposition":


Overpowered Consumables

Many consumables seem to be underpowered for their level, but what if they were given out in limited quantities at lower levels? And I mean much lower, like Lvl.15 Potions of Vitality at Lvl.1.

I did this recently as an experiment for a Lvl.5 minicampaign I ran: the PCs' patron gave them 3 Potions of Vitality before sending them deep into enemy territory. Those potions restored almost twice as much HP as the leader's heals and provided a saving throw in a pinch, but their limited numbers meant the PCs saved them for emergency situations. They wouldn't let them survive an extremely hard encounter, but they could turn a near-loss into a manageable win.

Other consumables can play a similar role: potions of variable resistance for fire salamander ambushes, scrolls of turn undead for overwhelming skeleton hordes, and so on.

"But what if they sell them for extra cash?" You can either bind them to the PCs somehow (perhaps the vitality potions were made with their own blood by a mad alchemist and thus only work for them), make their selling price so low it isn't worth it, or allow them to go ahead with it and accept the consequences... they have no one to blame but themselves if they needed those potions later.

Early Epic Revivals

This is a spinoff of the theory "bring the cool early". Many epic destinies have special abilities that let the PC revive from death once per day, but many campaigns don't get to epic and thus the players never get to use them. Not to mention that once they get them, well... they're epic. Unless the GM really ups the difficulty, they're probably wasting every monster sent at them with ease. They get revival at the point they probably need it the least. Too bad they didn't get it back in Heroic tier, when death was likely...

Well, why not let them?

What if each PC could pull off their epic revival once before actually reaching Epic tier? Call it an indication of things to come. Let them reveal their Superpowered Side when pushed to the edge. Give them a chance to come back from the brink of death to save their comrades... but make it take its toll. Perhaps they take the revive penalties of a Raise Dead ritual for doing it (-1 to all d20 rolls for 3 milestones). Perhaps it attracts unwanted attention later down the line. Perhaps it freaks them out as they wonder what the heck just happened (a plot hook in itself, hint hint...).

It may seem a bit overpowered to grant them access to such powers at low levels, but if you're playing the campaign as a High Heroic Fantasy where the PCs are (probably) Destined to do great things, I think it would fit right in.

They could certainly use those revives more at low levels instead of high, I know that...

Favors from the Gods

So the PCs have successfully adventured for several levels, completed great deeds, maybe aided a god or two. But on their latest adventure, they've angered the Big Bad so badly, he's decided to quit screwing around and send his entire ghoul army after them. The players valiantly fight, but they're on the verge of getting overwhelmed...

...So they decide to call on that favor the gods owe them.

The sky suddenly opens up and a column of light smashes into the ghouls, vaporizing them. As the dust settles, one of the PCs breathes a sigh of relief and says, "You know that complaint I made about running errands for the gods? I take that back..."

This is my favorite of the bunch, as it's a "save" the PCs had to earn. This is several levels of successfully completing quests & earning favor saving them at a critical moment. It is epic, it is awesome, and it drives home how much the PCs have accomplished.

It doesn't just have to be from the gods, either. Did the PCs complete a plotline where they woke up the World Serpent from a millenia-long slumber? Then they've earned the right to summon it once to smite their enemies. Did they save the leader of a major trading empire from a cult that's trying to end the world? Then he gives them an ancient lamp from the vault and tells them to open it during their most desperate hour. It simply has to be a one-use reward for completing a major goal that would utterly annihilate most encounters (or swing the major encounters in the PCs' favor).

Is it a bit overpowered & unrealistic? Maybe. But this is Heroic Fantasy, and if Moses was able to culminate several years of prophesizing into crushing an army with a sea, I think the PCs can get a single encounter blown up as a favor from the gods.

What do you think of these options on giving the players power over "saves"? Do you think players would accept these "saves", or demand the GM take down the safety nets? Can you think of any other ways to justify giving PCs the means to swing a bad fight in their favor?
The general consensus is that GMs prefer not to fudge rolls or tweak encounters, but does running a let-the-dice-fall-where-they-may game risk torpedoing an entire campaign because of one bad fight? Centauri advocates sidestepping this by always giving the monsters a goal other than "kill the players", but others have reasonably pointed out that doesn't always make sense or is feasible.

If it doesn't make sense to the players, then they must be fine with a "kill the characters" scenario and should be prepared for it to happen.

Yet I haven't seen anyone give a good solution about how you can run a no-tweaks campaign with potential-TPK encounters without causing a TPK on the first fight the PCs lose.

Really? They're offered all the time. Having "trapdoors" for the character or the party is the main one.

And say the monsters killed the party? So what? They apparently didn't have any goals to accomplish so they're basically just sitting around for the replacement group. Whee.

Yet the alternative is to GM (and play) without any safety net whatsoever; the first fatal mistake by the party will likely be their last.

If you assume death is the only way to fail, and that death will "torpedo the campaign," neither of which needs to be true.

The only options are extremes: either you have infinite safety nets or none. Where's the middle ground? Where's the limited number of safety nets that saves the PCs a few times, yet still provides tension and a reason not to screw up too much?

Why are we concerning ourselves with whether the players screw up? Screw ups happen, and can happen a lot. The enjoyment of the game shouldn't actually hinge on that.

I don't think that can be solved from the GM's side. I think we need to approach that problem from the other direction.

Power to the Players

The basis of these "saves" is giving the players control over when to ratchet down an encounter's difficulty, rather than the GM. This serves four purposes:

    By giving the players a running count of how often they can pull these off, they can be saved from a bad encounter while still keeping the tension high. They're aware they can only pull these off a limited number of times, and there's still the risk they'll run out of "saves" and TPK for good.

That's just kicking the can down the road.

    Setting them up ahead of time makes them a Chekov's Gun rather than a Deus Ex Machina, which most players will find easier to swallow than whatever hastily-made justification a GM gives for suddenly making an encounter easier.

Why are they hastily made? Why aren't they premade? Or, why isn't the need to make an encounter easier obviated entirely in advance?

How is it a "Chekhov's Gun"?

    Giving players control of it makes them feel empowered; if the GM decides when to do it, it makes them feel weak & unworthy of continuing.

Let's be clear: that's you. No one else I've encountered feels that way. They might feel cheated of a challenge, but not weak or unworthy.

    Gives the GM some leeway to try risky or challenging kill-or-be-killed encounters without torpedoing the entire campaign if the PCs can't handle one of them.

Hm.

I've divided these up into 3 categories based on their usefulness, from "give the PCs a much-needed edge" to "completely obliterate the opposition":
Overpowered Consumables

Many consumables seem to be underpowered for their level, but what if they were given out in limited quantities at lower levels? And I mean much lower, like Lvl.15 Potions of Vitality at Lvl.1.

I did this recently as an experiment for a Lvl.5 minicampaign I ran: the PCs' patron gave them 3 Potions of Vitality before sending them deep into enemy territory. Those potions restored almost twice as much HP as the leader's heals and provided a saving throw in a pinch, but their limited numbers meant the PCs saved them for emergency situations. They wouldn't let them survive an extremely hard encounter, but they could turn a near-loss into a manageable win.

Other consumables can play a similar role: potions of variable resistance for fire salamander ambushes, scrolls of turn undead for overwhelming skeleton hordes, and so on.

This amounts to the DM going easy on them, by giving them overpowered items.

Hit points alone may not be enough if, say, they are pushed off a ledge or something.

Because players often don't want to waste powerful items, they might forget about the items or not use them until it's too late.

"But what if they sell them for extra cash?" You can either bind them to the PCs somehow (perhaps the vitality potions were made with their own blood by a mad alchemist and thus only work for them), make their selling price so low it isn't worth it, or allow them to go ahead with it and accept the consequences... they have no one to blame but themselves if they needed those potions later.

Ah, yes, shifting the blame from the DM to the players, and from oneself to the other players. That's really what this is about.

The justifications for these in-game "saves" seem overly complex.

Early Epic Revivals

This is a spinoff of the theory "bring the cool early". Many epic destinies have special abilities that let the PC revive from death once per day, but many campaigns don't get to epic and thus the players never get to use them. Not to mention that once they get them, well... they're epic. Unless the GM really ups the difficulty, they're probably wasting every monster sent at them with ease. They get revival at the point they probably need it the least. Too bad they didn't get it back in Heroic tier, when death was likely...

If death isn't more likely at Epic, then the DM is probably just running bog-standard encounters when they could be running things that can really kill the characters, without even breaking the "rules" for encounter building.

Well, why not let them?

What if each PC could pull off their epic revival once before actually reaching Epic tier? Call it an indication of things to come. Let them reveal their Superpowered Side when pushed to the edge. Give them a chance to come back from the brink of death to save their comrades... but make it take its toll. Perhaps they take the revive penalties of a Raise Dead ritual for doing it (-1 to all d20 rolls for 3 milestones). Perhaps it attracts unwanted attention later down the line. Perhaps it freaks them out as they wonder what the heck just happened (a plot hook in itself, hint hint...).

That's fine, but it's still the DM going easy on them, and still involved complicated justifications.

It may seem a bit overpowered to grant them access to such powers at low levels, but if you're playing the campaign as a High Heroic Fantasy where the PCs are (probably) Destined to do great things, I think it would fit right in.

Sure, but I don't see that it's worth the trouble.

They could certainly use those revives more at low levels instead of high, I know that...

That doesn't make any sense.

Favors from the Gods

So the PCs have successfully adventured for several levels, completed great deeds, maybe aided a god or two. But on their latest adventure, they've angered the Big Bad so badly, he's decided to quit screwing around and send his entire ghoul army after them. The players valiantly fight, but they're on the verge of getting overwhelmed...

...So they decide to call on that favor the gods owe them.

The sky suddenly opens up and a column of light smashes into the ghouls, vaporizing them. As the dust settles, one of the PCs breathes a sigh of relief and says, "You know that complaint I made about running errands for the gods? I take that back..."

This is my favorite of the bunch, as it's a "save" the PCs had to earn. This is several levels of successfully completing quests & earning favor saving them at a critical moment. It is epic, it is awesome, and it drives home how much the PCs have accomplished.

It doesn't just have to be from the gods, either. Did the PCs complete a plotline where they woke up the World Serpent from a millenia-long slumber? Then they've earned the right to summon it once to smite their enemies. Did they save the leader of a major trading empire from a cult that's trying to end the world? Then he gives them an ancient lamp from the vault and tells them to open it during their most desperate hour. It simply has to be a one-use reward for completing a major goal that would utterly annihilate most encounters (or swing the major encounters in the PCs' favor).

This is the "deus ex machina" you were complaining about.

I like this idea the most so far, but it still has issues. It's the old "powerful NPCs come save the PCs" which is pretty much the prime example of demoralizing saves. It has the benefit of being set up in the fiction, and of course you're putting in the players' control, but it's still basically the same thing.

Is it a bit overpowered & unrealistic? Maybe. But this is Heroic Fantasy, and if Moses was able to culminate several years of prophesizing into crushing an army with a sea, I think the PCs can get a single encounter blown up as a favor from the gods.

I don't have a problem with unrealistic.

What do you think of these options on giving the players power over "saves"?

I think these all generate a lot of problems and don't solve that many. In 4e, players already have limited "saves" in the form of Daily powers and action points. These usually get hoarded long after they should be used, so they can blast the major fight with it at the end. That's what would happen with the "summon" option.

Do you think players would accept these "saves", or demand the GM take down the safety nets?

I thought the whole point was that they are in the players' control.

Can you think of any other ways to justify giving PCs the means to swing a bad fight in their favor?

Sure. Lots of games use "points" that give the players an advantage: remove a would, allow a reroll, force a reroll, have just the right item in hand. All any of it does is push the difficulty of killing the characters up, something D&D has already been doing for the past several editions. Then, when people actually do want (or claim to want) death in their games, all of these things have to be removed or worked around in some way.

Anything can work with buy-in from the players. But when is the hobby finally going to realize that character death is something that needs more than rules to handle it?

If I have to ask the GM for it, then I don't want it.

Action Points can swing the tides. I love them, and so do my players.

Death: Straight to the chase.

Some of my players have admitted to me that they are "attached" to their characters and it wouldn't be fun to "get into" another character. I had a situation where my PC's dragon character was knocked out of the sky. Then the disaster hit. The dragon took Constitution Damage from the strike the enemy used in addition to the falling damage.

At this point, the massive falling damage was enough to kill the character. I "saved" the character by having the enemy "Soul Trap" the character, bring it into a demon temple, then try to shift their soul from the soul gem into a magic item. Of course, she won the will save, then another to "reclaim" her body and I let her be at 0 hit points. (In my game you die at negative constitution score).

After the game, I changed the rule: Constitution Damage no longer deals Hit Point damage to players. It deals Subdual Damage with a Fortitude Save for half. I took the "fighting under zero rule" and changed things. When you take subdual damage, it "counts up from zero" and sets a new "zero point" threshold. If you have 20 subdual damage, and you are taken to 19 hit points, you are under the "Fighting below zero hit points" rule.

This change allowed Subdual Damage to become "interesting", allowed Constitution Damage to not be a game-wrecker. My players were happy with the rule change. I don't normally change the rules, but if I must concede the rule was unfair (and it was), then I will change it and corroborate my options with the players. I am glad I changed this rule, no regrets at all.  I also learned how to signal to players the approxamite levels of lethality they face.

Now, i only need a solution for "Kill Effect = No Save" for "One Player Games" (That is, one PC and the DM).

My struggle is that the players have all these neat auto-kill powers and I feel "blocked" from using them.

Within; Without.

I am glad I changed this rule, no regrets at all.  I also learned how to signal to players the approxamite levels of lethality they face.

That all sounds good, but it's just pushing death further down the road. Eventually you'll run into it again. Or, if you don't, you'll start to feel like you made things too easy or signalled too much. But what it all comes down to is that if the players lose a character they feel good about it. If they don't, then there's nothing you can change about the rules to make them feel good about it. If they do, there's nothing you need to change about the rules.

My struggle is that the players have all these neat auto-kill powers and I feel "blocked" from using them.

I don't follow. You feel blocked from using their powers? They can still use them. But I guess you mean that in changing the rules for their benefit you feel you've changed the rules for the enemy's benefit as well? Well, I don't see that it's completely necessary for the enemy to get the same breaks as the characters, but if you feel they should you've highlighted yet another problem with death in the game.

Rules can't solve this problem.

If I have to ask the GM for it, then I don't want it.

That all sounds good, but it's just pushing death further down the road. Eventually you'll run into it again. Or, if you don't, you'll start to feel like you made things too easy or signalled too much. But what it all comes down to is that if the players lose a character they feel good about it. If they don't, then there's nothing you can change about the rules to make them feel good about it. If they do, there's nothing you need to change about the rules.



When a level 36 character with a Constitution Score of 30 takes 10 Constitution Damage, they lose 5 Hit Points per level, 180 hit points. This, on top of whatever else that constiution damage was tied to. In this case, it was a paralyzing strike, with a poisoned weapon (one dose) which resulted in a natural 1, confirmed by a natural 1. Even 1/400 has to happen once in a while, right? I digress.  The falling damage was about 120 points of damage, the character had 200 hit points left.

The result from a non-epic sky battle gone awry mandated attention. Surely, I hadn't done anything "wrong" up to this point, but wrong happened. I realized there have been many instances where Constitution Damage was the "non-epic" deaths of several Epic Level characters. I also realized that Nonlethal Damage wasn't even being used in my game; It had been level 4 that this character last took Nonlethal damage. This "solution" caused me to begin using Nonlethal damage and my players to love it. We haven't had any game ruining moments which occured from Constitution Damage since, however that damage still threatens the character and can lead to their deaths.


I don't follow. You feel blocked from using their powers? They can still use them. But I guess you mean that in changing the rules for their benefit you feel you've changed the rules for the enemy's benefit as well? Well, I don't see that it's completely necessary for the enemy to get the same breaks as the characters, but if you feel they should you've highlighted yet another problem with death in the game.Rules can't solve this problem.



I noticed that the player has insta-kill spells (3.5 death domain cleric "type"). Lots of them, some which don't even have a saving throw. I have struggled with how to allow it into the game. I can't use these effects against the player for obvious reasons. I used to just have a save anyway, and on a failure, the player is taken to zero hit points (in my game you die at negative constitution score).

Now, this character is getting into level 12, and the player really wants to make use of the death effects and I am having a hard time with it. I don't know the best way to allow those abilities to be used while at the same time having a protection or fail save mechanism. My trapdoors aren't working on this character. It has a storyline with few other involved NPC's to replace it with in the heat of the moment.

What is the best way to permit death effects without saves or otherwise while keeping in mind some enemies also have these powers? Normally, I just use the zero rule or don't have the enemy use that power, maybe swap it with something else. The player has been kind about my zero rule, however she really wants at least one of them to actually kill the intended target instead of taking it to zero and I want to find a balanced way to allow that to happen.

Within; Without.

When a level 36 character with a Constitution Score of 30 takes 10 Constitution Damage, they lose 5 Hit Points per level, 180 hit points. This, on top of whatever else that constiution damage was tied to. In this case, it was a paralyzing strike, with a poisoned weapon (one dose) which resulted in a natural 1, confirmed by a natural 1.

I don't recall having to recall natural 1s. Sounds like you've already pushed death down the road, and run into it again.

Even 1/400 has to happen once in a while, right?

That's exactly my point. You can't rely on rules and numbers to stave off death that isn't desired.

The result from a non-epic sky battle gone awry mandated attention.

Yes, but not in the form of a change to the rules.

Surely, I hadn't done anything "wrong" up to this point, but wrong happened.

Because it could.

This "solution" caused me to begin using Nonlethal damage and my players to love it.

Great. What's the in-game reason for the enemies to use nonlethal damage?

We haven't had any game ruining moments which occured from Constitution Damage since, however that damage still threatens the character and can lead to their deaths.

And it will, and it you'll again feel the need to make tweaks. It's potentially never ending.

I noticed that the player has insta-kill spells (3.5 death domain cleric "type"). Lots of them, some which don't even have a saving throw. I have struggled with how to allow it into the game. I can't use these effects against the player for obvious reasons.

What's the struggle? The players use them, you don't.

I used to just have a save anyway, and on a failure, the player is taken to zero hit points (in my game you die at negative constitution score).

You pushed death down the road.

Now, this character is getting into level 12, and the player really wants to make use of the death effects and I am having a hard time with it. I don't know the best way to allow those abilities to be used while at the same time having a protection or fail save mechanism.

Don't have a protection or fail safe mechanism, and don't use those powers against the players.

My trapdoors aren't working on this character. It has a storyline with few other involved NPC's to replace it with in the heat of the moment.

Trapdoors do need some advance prep. You've painted yourself into a corner.

What is the best way to permit death effects without saves or otherwise while keeping in mind some enemies also have these powers?

Give the enemies other powers.

Or, as has been said repeatedly, give the enemy reasons not to want to use those powers on the players. If you can't think of any good reasons, ask your players. If they can't think of any good reasons, maybe they're ok with their characters dying to those effects. If they're not, it's back to the drawing board. Don't rely on statistics to save the day and to only go bad when you want them to.

Normally, I just use the zero rule or don't have the enemy use that power, maybe swap it with something else. The player has been kind about my zero rule, however she really wants at least one of them to actually kill the intended target instead of taking it to zero and I want to find a balanced way to allow that to happen.

It's fine for the monsters to have different powers and abilities from the players. You have lots of options for your monsters. Use those.

If I have to ask the GM for it, then I don't want it.

Nonlethal Damage can make you unconscious, and enemies who use subdual damage are usually targeting you with it for that reason. Each enemy that chooses to use subdual damage will have a different reason. Pawz the Merchant Catfolk wants to box you; he won't use his claws, so he will deal subdual damage. The renegade faction of poachers will always use subdual damage and fight with nets, whips and other items because they want to sell or ransom you. A minotuar warlord might deal both lethal and nonlethal damage with its great bash power.

You make a good point; I don't need to use those powers. They are there for the players to use. The struggle occurs because I sometimes do use an enemy that everyone agrees and knows has death effects like a Banshee Dragon or Demon Wraith. I could just use the zero rule on the players, and let them swing for the kill on enemies but I don't like that. I could just keep the zero rule as the rule but that doesn't feel like real death from a death effect. I don't like using enemies with death resistance items unless the enemy has a very good reason to have that item, and drops it as loot.

That feels like it leaves me with few options, so maybe just using different abilities instead is good enough. "It didn't use death because it used a blighted meteor storm." I won't bother changing the Constitution Damage again, because it just feels right as it is now.

Unfortunately the Trap Door NPC's got hired by her other PC's into other areas of the world, and her main ally NPC is a Chronomancer. She already has a Chronomancer so that wouldn't entertain her, and she doesn't have any other characters in that level range yet. One of them is pretty close but by the time it is, she will be more than attached to that one too. All my trapdoor NPC's got "sucked" into a different area of the world. She has a level 38 Chronomancer, a level 36 Dragon Bard (Actually, Wyrm), a level 24 Archer who uses Dream effects including the Dream World, a level 12 Cleric type (death), a level 7 noble. The dragon has existed for 4 RL years, the Chronomancer about 2 RL years.

Edit:  Thanks for the tips and honest criticism. Not enough people are happy to get good answers, but I am.

Within; Without.

The general consensus is that GMs prefer not to fudge rolls or tweak encounters, but does running a let-the-dice-fall-where-they-may game risk torpedoing an entire campaign because of one bad fight? Yet I haven't seen anyone give a good solution about how you can run a no-tweaks campaign with potential-TPK encounters without causing a TPK on the first fight the PCs lose.


Some of my players have admitted to me that they are "attached" to their characters and it wouldn't be fun to "get into" another character.


While groups can try to solve the situation of the PCs dying by adding more rules to the game like the OP suggests, I'm of the opinion that this should be handled differently: 

Let the player decide when his or her PC actually dies. All that happens when the criteria for 'death' are met, is that the character is taken out of the fight or otherwise can't participate in the action for a while. It then becomes the player's responsibility to find a way for his or her PC's story to continue, with help from the rest of the group if necessary. 

I'm not against giving a revived PC some sort of penalty or disadvantage for dying (they have, after all, 'lost the game'), which can be as simple as a -1 penalty to all rolls for 3 milestones. Just remember that character death, even TPKs, don't have to end campaigns unless the group agrees they should.
If PCs die, PCs die.  It's really that simple.  There is risk for the reward of playing.  If there is not, it is not fun for the players, or the DM.  Yeah, people are gonna get butt hurt if thier PC dies, they'll get over it.  If they are unable to get over it, I don't really want them in my game.  PC death is something that should constantly hang over thier head.  Trying to give them ways to "save" against it is silly IMO.
And if Bob the Fighter dies, would you stop the player from making Jeff the Fighter (mechanically identical) as his next character?
Back to Basics - A Guide to Basic Attacks You might be playing DnD wrong if... "Only two things are infinite, the universe and human stupidity, and I'm not sure about the former." Albert Einstein
And if Bob the Fighter dies, would you stop the player from making Jeff the Fighter (mechanically identical) as his next character?



Does he have an interesting story for why some identical to him, who is a unique person in the world, to just show up at exactly the time and place he died?
He was hit on the head recently and thinks he's Bob. He will now act exactly as Bob for the rest of the campaign.
Back to Basics - A Guide to Basic Attacks You might be playing DnD wrong if... "Only two things are infinite, the universe and human stupidity, and I'm not sure about the former." Albert Einstein
He was hit on the head recently and thinks he's Bob. He will now act exactly as Bob for the rest of the campaign.



That is not interesting, and even if he -thinks- he is Bob, he is not, so his stats will likely be different and he will not be as effective as Bob, if I even allowed it, it would be at a couple level disadvantage at that point, because it's just not interesting.
All I can say, is thank god the DMs I play with are not as passive-aggressive as you.

"Dance for me, my monkeys!" ("Interest me or take severe mechanical disadvantages. Why? Screw you, that's why.") 
Back to Basics - A Guide to Basic Attacks You might be playing DnD wrong if... "Only two things are infinite, the universe and human stupidity, and I'm not sure about the former." Albert Einstein
If PCs die, PCs die. It's really that simple.


In your game, not in mine. I encourage everyone to play the way they like best, as long as they realize it's not the only way to play the game. 

There is risk for the reward of playing.  If there is not, it is not fun for the players, or the DM.


Says who? I don't think it's fun if my character's story abruptly ends because the DM critted me twice and the healer didn't get the time to heal me, or the DM du jour failed to balance the encounter correctly.

Yeah, people are gonna get butt hurt if thier PC dies, they'll get over it.  If they are unable to get over it, I don't really want them in my game.  PC death is something that should constantly hang over thier head.  Trying to give them ways to "save" against it is silly IMO.


"In your game" bears repeating here.
On a number of occasions on these forums I have explained my "coins of notable deeds."  I have recently added to the original features the concept of action points for at www.dandwiki.com/wiki/UA:Action_Points.&... My players are still getting used to them, but with a little encouragement they are learning when and how to turn the tide of a hard fought battle.

With this in mind, I have stopped rolling dice behind a screen and fudging when I feel it necessary.  if a situation gets dire, I simply remind the player(s) in question, "you've got coins to turn in and you could do ... to save yourself."

 

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

Are you really "entitled to your opinion"?
RedSiegfried wrote:
The cool thing is, you don't even NEED a reason to say yes.  Just stop looking for a reason to say no.
All I can say, is thank god the DMs I play with are not as passive-aggressive as you.

"Dance for me, my monkeys!" ("Interest me or take severe mechanical disadvantages. Why? Screw you, that's why.") 



Well, the other side of the coin is that I am not out to kill my PCs.  I am not going for a TPK each time.  I mostly use published material currently as I am still relatively new to DMing.  However, sometimes the dice fall where they fall and death happens.  That is part of the game.  So far, it has not been a problem for me or my players.
However, sometimes the dice fall where they fall and death happens.  That is part of the game.  So far, it has not been a problem for me or my players.


Has anyone died this way yet in the campaign? How did they react to it?
If PCs die, PCs die. It's really that simple.


In your game, not in mine. I encourage everyone to play the way they like best, as long as they realize it's not the only way to play the game. 

There is risk for the reward of playing.  If there is not, it is not fun for the players, or the DM.


Says who? I don't think it's fun if my character's story abruptly ends because the DM critted me twice and the healer didn't get the time to heal me, or the DM du jour failed to balance the encounter correctly.

Yeah, people are gonna get butt hurt if thier PC dies, they'll get over it.  If they are unable to get over it, I don't really want them in my game.  PC death is something that should constantly hang over thier head.  Trying to give them ways to "save" against it is silly IMO.


"In your game" bears repeating here.



Yes, that is why I put that in there.  My game, and my players agree ahead of time.  However, it's true, people die.  You can't always win.  As long as those deaths are interesting and memorable, it's really ok.  Sometimes, players balk at having to re-roll, it's true.  But usually, they have another idea for a char they want to try anyway.  After a session or two bringing thier new char in, they get over it.  Sure, they miss the old char and will likely always fondly remember it, especially if you made the death interesting.
The simplest way of dealing with this issue is to collaborate with your players on the stakes of an encounter. Nobody should be forcing anyone to play for stakes they don't find fun. If your players don't care to put life on the line in a given scene, make the stakes for success and failure something other than living or dying. It's really not that hard.

I've also found that encounters wherein the scene is about stopping NPCs/monsters succeeding in their goals rather than stopping them from breathing are generally more challenging for the players and makes for much more fluid, dynamic outcomes.  Death becomes incidental and can still happen, but "kill all humans" is not the monsters' primary goal. If they succeed, the PCs fail and things are more complicated and dangerous for the world going forward. So if you're a DM that enjoys presenting challenging encounters, you can jack up the XP budget and risk TPK, or you can do what I just suggested. (Though note this isn't a binary choice.)

In any event, this is all stuff to discuss before starting a game.

For any decision or adjudication, ask yourself, "Is this going to be fun for everyone?" and "Is this going to lead to the creation of an exciting, memorable story?"

DMs: Dungeon Master 101  |  Session Zero  |  How to Adjudicate Actions  |  No Myth Roleplaying  |  5e Monster Index & Encounter Calculator
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However, sometimes the dice fall where they fall and death happens.  That is part of the game.  So far, it has not been a problem for me or my players.


Has anyone died this way yet in the campaign? How did they react to it?



In my current campaign, no, but in past campaigns yes.  They reacted with a, "Damn it, oh well, I've been tying with an idea for a different kind of striker anyway."  I said, "Ok, find an interesting way to bring him into the story, I'll help you if you want, or give you some ideas."  "Great, I'll have it ready next session, can I borrow your PHB2 and Primal Power Book this weekend."  "Sure."
Sometimes, players balk at having to re-roll, it's true.  But usually, they have another idea for a char they want to try anyway.  After a session or two bringing thier new char in, they get over it.  Sure, they miss the old char and will likely always fondly remember it, especially if you made the death interesting.


The goal of D&D is to have fun. Please think about that for a second, and then reread your comment about players being unhappy about character death (especially when it's unnecessary). 
Sometimes, players balk at having to re-roll, it's true.  But usually, they have another idea for a char they want to try anyway.  After a session or two bringing thier new char in, they get over it.  Sure, they miss the old char and will likely always fondly remember it, especially if you made the death interesting.


The goal of D&D is to have fun. Please think about that for a second, and then reread your comment about players being unhappy about character death (especially when it's unnecessary). 




This is my opinion, again, but without the risk or chance of death, where is the fun?  Then again, when I played Diablo 2 I always played on Hardcore.  When games do not have death penalties other than running back to your corpse, i don't play them.  Where's the fun if you re invincible?  It's like gankers in MMOs, what is the fun in going and destroying people

Again, I am not saying I make death a regular thing, but it is a threat.  Most encounters, I'd venture to say 80-90%, have pretty much no chance for death.  However, that chance rears it's ugly head from time to time, one in every 5-10 encounters is gonna be something that can kill you.  That chance is probably close to 10-15%.  It's not a huge chance, but it can and will happen.  Personally, I am up front with my players about this.  I tell them in session 0, I am not out to kill you guys, but it may happen.  I'm also not talking TPks here, something would have to go very wrong, like walking into what is obviously going to be a tough fight with no dailies or healing surges.  Sorry, if you do that, you're gonna have an increased chance of death.  My players also know though, that leaving that dungeon and coming back, sometime things move into to rooms they have cleared.  This leaves them with interesting choices and memorable moments, which is having fun.
If PCs die, PCs die.  It's really that simple.  There is risk for the reward of playing.

No, that's a rationalization for a problem you don't have a solution for. It doesn't seem to be a problem you've encountered yet, or if you have you've been dismissive of it.

  If there is not, it is not fun for the players, or the DM.  Yeah, people are gonna get butt hurt if thier PC dies, they'll get over it.  If they are unable to get over it, I don't really want them in my game.  PC death is something that should constantly hang over thier head.  Trying to give them ways to "save" against it is silly IMO.

All classic arguments, all overblown and likely to lead to other problems, such as players simply not caring about their characters in the slightest.

He was hit on the head recently and thinks he's Bob. He will now act exactly as Bob for the rest of the campaign.

That is not interesting, and even if he -thinks- he is Bob, he is not, so his stats will likely be different and he will not be as effective as Bob, if I even allowed it, it would be at a couple level disadvantage at that point, because it's just not interesting.

Ah, DM as gate keeper. Amuse the DM, or be penalized. Where does the player's enjoyment enter in?

Well, the other side of the coin is that I am not out to kill my PCs.  I am not going for a TPK each time.  I mostly use published material currently as I am still relatively new to DMing.  However, sometimes the dice fall where they fall and death happens.  That is part of the game.  So far, it has not been a problem for me or my players.

Well put: so far. Welcome to the hobby, and the board. Death is part of the genre, but it doesn't have to be part of the game. If the players want it to be, there are ways to make it so that character death doesn't mean the end of the character or the end of the player's participation. The key one is Raise Dead, but I wouldn't be surprised if you've already banned that or made it overly troublesome. Most DMs seem to.

Yes, that is why I put that in there.  My game, and my players agree ahead of time.

Then why would they be hurt over the loss of a character?

However, it's true, people die.  You can't always win.

Absolutely, but "losing" is not the same as "dying" even in D&D.

As long as those deaths are interesting and memorable, it's really ok.

Agreed. But handling it all via the dice does not ensure that the deaths will be either interesting (to whom, I wonder?) or memorable.

  Sometimes, players balk at having to re-roll, it's true.  But usually, they have another idea for a char they want to try anyway.

Usually. And how long do they sit out before their new character gets to join in?

Anything works with player buy-in and it sounds like your players are (mostly) bought in. Great. Don't change a thing. The question of risk and failure and how to bring those about still bears consideration though.

If I have to ask the GM for it, then I don't want it.

Ah, DM as gate keeper. Amuse the DM, or be penalized. Where does the player's enjoyment enter in?



Well, in coming up with a better story than that.  I have never had a player try to use a really really lame story like that in any of my games.  One tried one time, and I didn't have to say jack, the other players did.  The guy quickly agreed, yeah, if one of you did that I would be upset.  That guy is gone, let's either look for a way to raise him, or I'll move on to a new idea.

 Well put: so far. Welcome to the hobby, and the board. Death is part of the genre, but it doesn't have to be part of the game. If the players want it to be, there are ways to make it so that character death doesn't mean the end of the character or the end of the player's participation. The key one is Raise Dead, but I wouldn't be surprised if you've already banned that or made it overly troublesome. Most DMs seem to.



No, my players actually already know where they can go for that.  It's not banned, or overly troublesome.  It will come at a cost, some gems, some gold, a magic item in trade, something valuable, but something they have.  There will be a cost associated with it, but one they will be able to afford or attain.

Then why would they be hurt over the loss of a character?


Really?  I have to explain this?  People agree to things and then aer upset about it later -all- the time.  It happens.

 Absolutely, but "losing" is not the same as "dying" even in D&D.


True, bad wording on my part.

 Agreed. But handling it all via the dice does not ensure that the deaths will be either interesting (to whom, I wonder?) or memorable.


It's not all handled by the dice, merely determined by the dice.  The events leading up to, and the move the boss uses, the things he says and actions he takes are what makes it interesting.  In the past, when PCs have died(twice in my campaigns, that's all, it's really rare) they have agreed it was interesting and memorable.  I actually just called one of the 2 people that died in my campaign(2-3 years ago) and asked him if he remebered that time his char died.  He laughed and said yeah, I remember that, remembered most of the details and recounted it in an interesting way.  Funny thing, he was also butt-hurt at the time it happened, yet looks back on it fondly.  Funny how that works isn't it?

Usually. And how long do they sit out before their new character gets to join in?

Anything works with player buy-in and it sounds like your players are (mostly) bought in. Great. Don't change a thing. The question of risk and failure and how to bring those about still bears consideration though.



Not long, just until the next session, if that.  If they have another char ready to go, maybe 1-2 encounters until there is a good way in the story to bring them in.
Again, I am not saying I make death a regular thing, but it is a threat.  Most encounters, I'd venture to say 80-90%, have pretty much no chance for death.  However, that chance rears it's ugly head from time to time, one in every 5-10 encounters is gonna be something that can kill you.  That chance is probably close to 10-15%.  It's not a huge chance, but it can and will happen.  Personally, I am up front with my players about this.  I tell them in session 0, I am not out to kill you guys, but it may happen.  I'm also not talking TPks here, something would have to go very wrong, like walking into what is obviously going to be a tough fight with no dailies or healing surges.  Sorry, if you do that, you're gonna have an increased chance of death.  My players also know though, that leaving that dungeon and coming back, sometime things move into to rooms they have cleared.  This leaves them with interesting choices and memorable moments, which is having fun.



Speaking as a player and DM, I like encounters that have all have a fair chance of success or failure where failure doesn't necessarily mean death. If I go into an encounter and there's an expected 80-90% chance of success, I wonder why we're even taking the time to play it out. Sure, tactical combat is fun, but after a while, you're just going through the motions in some encounters.

For any decision or adjudication, ask yourself, "Is this going to be fun for everyone?" and "Is this going to lead to the creation of an exciting, memorable story?"

DMs: Dungeon Master 101  |  Session Zero  |  How to Adjudicate Actions  |  No Myth Roleplaying  |  5e Monster Index & Encounter Calculator
Players: Players 101  |  11 Ways to Be a Better Roleplayer  |  You Are Not Your Character  |  Pre-Gen D&D 5e PCs

Content I Created: Adventure Scenarios  |  Actual Play Reports  |  Tools  |  Game Transcripts

Follow me on Twitter: @is3rith

Again, I am not saying I make death a regular thing, but it is a threat.  Most encounters, I'd venture to say 80-90%, have pretty much no chance for death.  However, that chance rears it's ugly head from time to time, one in every 5-10 encounters is gonna be something that can kill you.  That chance is probably close to 10-15%.  It's not a huge chance, but it can and will happen.  Personally, I am up front with my players about this.  I tell them in session 0, I am not out to kill you guys, but it may happen.  I'm also not talking TPks here, something would have to go very wrong, like walking into what is obviously going to be a tough fight with no dailies or healing surges.  Sorry, if you do that, you're gonna have an increased chance of death.  My players also know though, that leaving that dungeon and coming back, sometime things move into to rooms they have cleared.  This leaves them with interesting choices and memorable moments, which is having fun.



Speaking as a player and DM, I like encounters that have all have a fair chance of success or failure where failure doesn't necessarily mean death. If I go into an encounter and there's an expected 80-90% chance of success, I wonder why we're even taking the time to play it out. Sure, tactical combat is fun, but after a while, you're just going through the motions in some encounters.




Ah, but failure and death are not the same thing.  Death is one way to fail, and it can happen, but there are other ways to fail as well.  Almost all the encounters have a way to fail, only 1 in every 5-10 is that chance to fail death.  They can fail in other ways as well.  Not all the enemies are out to kill either.  Sometimes it's set-up so there is a much higher chance of failure, but failure is not death.
Well, in coming up with a better story than that.  I have never had a player try to use a really really lame story like that in any of my games.  One tried one time, and I didn't have to say jack, the other players did.  The guy quickly agreed, yeah, if one of you did that I would be upset.  That guy is gone, let's either look for a way to raise him, or I'll move on to a new idea.

So, there is gatekeeping going on. Ideas are not allowed to be repeated. I don't care to repeat ideas myself, but what's wrong with someone else wanting to? Why does an in-game situation mean that an out-of-game idea can't be used anymore.

No, my players actually already know where they can go for that.  It's not banned, or overly troublesome.  It will come at a cost, some gems, some gold, a magic item in trade, something valuable, but something they have.  There will be a cost associated with it, but one they will be able to afford or attain.

I don't understand. There's already a cost, and not a terribly onerous one. Did you increase or change it?

Really?  I have to explain this?  People agree to things and then aer upset about it later -all- the time.  It happens.

Then their agreement was misguided. They either assumed it wouldn't happen to them, or assumed that they would feel the way they expect other people to feel about it.

 Agreed. But handling it all via the dice does not ensure that the deaths will be either interesting (to whom, I wonder?) or memorable.

It's not all handled by the dice, merely determined by the dice.  The events leading up to, and the move the boss uses, the things he says and actions he takes are what makes it interesting.  In the past, when PCs have died(twice in my campaigns, that's all, it's really rare) they have agreed it was interesting and memorable.  I actually just called one of the 2 people that died in my campaign(2-3 years ago) and asked him if he remebered that time his char died.  He laughed and said yeah, I remember that, remembered most of the details and recounted it in an interesting way.  Funny thing, he was also butt-hurt at the time it happened, yet looks back on it fondly.  Funny how that works isn't it?

No, that's just rationalization after the fact, probably colored by nostalgia. The issue is with enjoyment of the game in the moment. Stories of arguments or other problems stemming from in-game deaths are legion, and I don't understand why anyone would risk it.

I get the bad sportsmanship argument. No one wants to play with someone who wants to argue and complain. But the threat of character death triggers that instinct like few other situations in few other games. It's ejection from the game for playing the game by the rules. I guess being "out" in baseball is similar, but in most other games you don't leave the field unless you broke the rules. You don't have to give up your playstyle or unstring your racket just for making a mistake.

Usually. And how long do they sit out before their new character gets to join in?

Anything works with player buy-in and it sounds like your players are (mostly) bought in. Great. Don't change a thing. The question of risk and failure and how to bring those about still bears consideration though.

Not long, just until the next session, if that.  If they have another char ready to go, maybe 1-2 encounters until there is a good way in the story to bring them in.

Can that good way be figured out in advance?

If I have to ask the GM for it, then I don't want it.

I don't get why you are acting like I am saying death is inevitable and will happen no matter what.  All I am saying is that there us a chance, albeit a small one, that it can happen.  Why look for ways to avoid it?  How is that fun?  I mean, how fun would it be to be in a race where you know your going to win?  How fun would it be to go shoot pool with your buddies if you knew you were always going to run the table on them?  How fun would it be if you went bowling and knew you were going to bowl a perfect 300 every time?  Maybe to you it would be, but to me that's boring.  Same thing applies to the game.  How is it fun to play if you know you are never going to die?  There is a chance it will happen and you have to deal with it.
 
And centauri, as for your comment about in most sports you don't leave the field unless you break the rules?  Do you even watch sports at all?  Hockey, line changes get called all the time.  No rules were broken, but they get switched out.  People are put on the bench for not performing well all the time.  The coach can bench a player from his own team any time he wants, for any reason he wants, and it happens all the time.  You don't call getting benched being removed from the field?
I don't get why you are acting like I am saying death is inevitable and will happen no matter what.  All I am saying is that there us a chance, albeit a small one, that it can happen.  Why look for ways to avoid it?  How is that fun?  I mean, how fun would it be to be in a race where you know your going to win?  How fun would it be to go shoot pool with your buddies if you knew you were always going to run the table on them?  How fun would it be if you went bowling and knew you were going to bowl a perfect 300 every time?  Maybe to you it would be, but to me that's boring.  Same thing applies to the game.  How is it fun to play if you know you are never going to die?  There is a chance it will happen and you have to deal with it.



It's possible to have a game where death isn't on the line ever, but some other important stakes are, if you want. In such a game, success is not guaranteed just because you lived. I don't believe PC death need be a possibility at all to make a game interesting.

For any decision or adjudication, ask yourself, "Is this going to be fun for everyone?" and "Is this going to lead to the creation of an exciting, memorable story?"

DMs: Dungeon Master 101  |  Session Zero  |  How to Adjudicate Actions  |  No Myth Roleplaying  |  5e Monster Index & Encounter Calculator
Players: Players 101  |  11 Ways to Be a Better Roleplayer  |  You Are Not Your Character  |  Pre-Gen D&D 5e PCs

Content I Created: Adventure Scenarios  |  Actual Play Reports  |  Tools  |  Game Transcripts

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Success is not guarunteed just because you live either, at least not in my games.  Again, I state that death is not the only way to fail, it's just one that comes up.  In reality though, if death is not an option at all, or you are going to look at ways to make it less likely, or give players a way out, after the outcome of the dice roll that killed them(aside from raise dead) then why even have HP at all?  What's the point, the PC cannot or will not die, just give them 10,000 HP.
Hit points are a pacing mechanism, nothing more.

I'm also not suggesting giving the players a "way out." I'm saying that death needn't ever be in question, if that's the game the group wants to play. 

For any decision or adjudication, ask yourself, "Is this going to be fun for everyone?" and "Is this going to lead to the creation of an exciting, memorable story?"

DMs: Dungeon Master 101  |  Session Zero  |  How to Adjudicate Actions  |  No Myth Roleplaying  |  5e Monster Index & Encounter Calculator
Players: Players 101  |  11 Ways to Be a Better Roleplayer  |  You Are Not Your Character  |  Pre-Gen D&D 5e PCs

Content I Created: Adventure Scenarios  |  Actual Play Reports  |  Tools  |  Game Transcripts

Follow me on Twitter: @is3rith

All I am saying is that there us a chance, albeit a small one, that it can happen.

How small is small enough?

Why look for ways to avoid it?

Because it ends a player idea, makes a player unhappy, disrupts a cool scene, prompts argument, etc.

How is that fun?

It's fun for the same reason it's fun in a movie or show. The characters lose, but they continue on. No one has to stop playing.

  I mean, how fun would it be to be in a race where you know your going to win?  How fun would it be to go shoot pool with your buddies if you knew you were always going to run the table on them?  How fun would it be if you went bowling and knew you were going to bowl a perfect 300 every time?  Maybe to you it would be, but to me that's boring.  Same thing applies to the game.  How is it fun to play if you know you are never going to die?  There is a chance it will happen and you have to deal with it.

You're conflating "death" and "failure" again, something you otherwise seem to understand. Just because characters aren't going to die doesn't mean they're always going to win.
 
And centauri, as for your comment about in most sports you don't leave the field unless you break the rules?  Do you even watch sports at all?

Classy.

Hockey, line changes get called all the time.  No rules were broken, but they get switched out.  People are put on the bench for not performing well all the time.  The coach can bench a player from his own team any time he wants, for any reason he wants, and it happens all the time.  You don't call getting benched being removed from the field?

Right, but the DM is not a coach. The DM is more like an official, and officials don't kick people off the field unless they've broken rules.

The point is, it's nonsensical for there to be a mode of a game which requires someone to stop playing the game unless they want to. Some people want their character to die, fine, let them, but they should step in immediately with a backup character.

If I have to ask the GM for it, then I don't want it.

Success is not guarunteed just because you live either, at least not in my games.  Again, I state that death is not the only way to fail, it's just one that comes up.  In reality though, if death is not an option at all, or you are going to look at ways to make it less likely, or give players a way out, after the outcome of the dice roll that killed them(aside from raise dead) then why even have HP at all?  What's the point, the PC cannot or will not die, just give them 10,000 HP.

That's not as crazy an idea as you're trying to make it sound with your hyperbole.

Hit points don't need to be tied to living or dying. If a character drops to zero, that's a good time to check with the players to see if they just want to concede failure of their goal and success of the enemy's goal or not. If a character is knocked out, that player should not have to spend round after round not playing the game, and the group should give consideration to that. If the player's fine with it, fine. Otherwise it's pointless and is likely to result in disruption of the game.

If I have to ask the GM for it, then I don't want it.

Success is not guarunteed just because you live either, at least not in my games.  Again, I state that death is not the only way to fail, it's just one that comes up.  In reality though, if death is not an option at all, or you are going to look at ways to make it less likely, or give players a way out, after the outcome of the dice roll that killed them(aside from raise dead) then why even have HP at all?  What's the point, the PC cannot or will not die, just give them 10,000 HP.

That's not as crazy an idea as you're trying to make it sound with your hyperbole.

Hit points don't need to be tied to living or dying. If a character drops to zero, that's a good time to check with the players to see if they just want to concede failure of their goal and success of the enemy's goal or not. If a character is knocked out, that player should not have to spend round after round not playing the game, and the group should give consideration to that. If the player's fine with it, fine. Otherwise it's pointless and is likely to result in disruption of the game.



If a charachter drops to sub-zer HP that's a perfect time to check with the rules and see what they say happens.  The players have at least 3 rounds until he fails 3 death saves and can get him back up in some way.  Plenty of powers that heal, that even if he is out of surges will come back with 1 HP.  No powers that heal available?  Do they have any Health Potions(my players always do) another player can give him one.  No healing potions?  Well, there is the Heal skill to administer first aid.  This even follows the rule of having an interesting outcome on sucess or failure.  These rules for death are in there for a reason, because death is something that is intended to happen in games from time to time.

Again, I am not saying I go out of my way to try to kill the players, but even in what should be a very easy combat encounter, that the players decided the best resolution is to just try to kill them and have not given any thought to any other outcomes because they fought these guys before, they know they are easy and can take them out.  Well, all the sudden thier rolls go to crap and the monsters get a string of crits.  A player dies, the other players decide that they can finish off the enemies in time to save him and they do not heal him, give him a potion or administer First Aid.  The player then dies.  It happens, carry on.  The players chose to fight and let the dice decide what happens, someone died, -due to the players choices-.  It was not the DM going, I am gonna kill one of you just because I want to make you dance.  It was not the DM going out of his way to try to kill someone, it just happened, it's part of the game and in the rules.  It is intended to happen sometimes.


Success is not guarunteed just because you live either, at least not in my games.  Again, I state that death is not the only way to fail, it's just one that comes up.  In reality though, if death is not an option at all, or you are going to look at ways to make it less likely, or give players a way out, after the outcome of the dice roll that killed them(aside from raise dead) then why even have HP at all?  What's the point, the PC cannot or will not die, just give them 10,000 HP.

That's not as crazy an idea as you're trying to make it sound with your hyperbole.

Hit points don't need to be tied to living or dying. If a character drops to zero, that's a good time to check with the players to see if they just want to concede failure of their goal and success of the enemy's goal or not. If a character is knocked out, that player should not have to spend round after round not playing the game, and the group should give consideration to that. If the player's fine with it, fine. Otherwise it's pointless and is likely to result in disruption of the game.



So player gets reduced to zero HP, you then check with the player so see if he wants to die or not, of course he says no, so you just let him pop back up at full HP?  Why roll dice in combat at all, just let all the players attacks always hit and all the monsters hits be glancing blows or not hit or only deal 1HP damage.  Seems kinda pointless to even have combat at all.

If the players -want- combat, because they walked into an encounter and said, ok, we are gonna draw our weapons and charge in, that will always be what they do if they cannot die, because they know they are invincible.  Why look for another way at all if we can just say we don't want to die and get back up?  Death, as an option, makes them look for other interesting ways to avoid death.
This even follows the rule of having an interesting outcome on sucess or failure.

Not unless it's actually interesting. It might be, but the rules - no rules - can guarantee it will be.

These rules for death are in there for a reason, because death is something that is intended to happen in games from time to time.

Fine, but the rules allow for it to happen any time and it's not going to be fun any time or even most times.

Well, all the sudden thier rolls go to crap and the monsters get a string of crits.  A player dies, the other players decide that they can finish off the enemies in time to save him and they do not heal him, give him a potion or administer First Aid.  The player then dies.  It happens, carry on.  The players chose to fight and let the dice decide what happens, someone died, -due to the players choices-.  It was not the DM going, I am gonna kill one of you just because I want to make you dance.  It was not the DM going out of his way to try to kill someone, it just happened, it's part of the game and in the rules.

Ah, the last refuge: It's not the DM's fault!

No one's saying it's the DM's fault that someone dies, but if the game becomes not fun for someone at the table, then I hope everyone takes some responsibility for that. In your example, the other players were the ones to decide that the character was going to die. If the player of that character is fine with that, great, but otherwise it's the other players deciding that one of the players doesn't get to play for however long it takes that character to be replaced.

It is intended to happen sometimes.

When it would be fun. The rules don't make it fun, as I think you'll agree. So, when it's not fun, take it off the table. There are lots of ways to do that, so there's really no excuse not to.

If I have to ask the GM for it, then I don't want it.

So player gets reduced to zero HP, you then check with the player so see if he wants to die or not, of course he says no


There's your disconnect. You'd be surprised how often players are happy with their PC dying for a variety of reasons, most commonly it was a cool/heroic death or they just want to roll up a new character.
However, there's nothing WRONG with the way you're playing, it's just that there are valid alternatives which many find enhance the game and/or avoid problems.
As much as I dont enjoy waiting to somehow return back to the game after my pc died either raise dead or new pc intro, I would enjoy the game even less or never return to the game at all if death was made impossible by the dm. Nothing can hurt you is boring...so is nothing can kill you. IMO as player.
I was taking it in the context that it was provided.  Of course if he says yes there is no problem, but if he says no, but his actions and die rolls led to that conclusion, his actions are speking differently than his words.  He is saying I don't want to die, so please Mr DM do not kill me, yet rushing headlong into situations that can easily get him killed and trying to resolve them through combat alone.

If you make your players invincible, why would they search for other ways to do things?  Then it becomes combat all the time and boring.  You all are agreeing that failure is an option, we are on the same page there.  Death is one option for failure.  If the players choose combat as a resolution, they are accepting that they are going to be getting hit and could die, regardless of what they said, thier actions show they are willing to die.
As much as I dont enjoy waiting to somehow return back to the game after my pc died either raise dead or new pc intro, I would enjoy the game even less or never return to the game at all if death was made impossible by the dm. Nothing can hurt you is boring...so is nothing can kill you. IMO as player.



Why would the DM make death impossible if that's not the game everyone wants to play?

If you don't enjoy waiting around to somehow return back to the game after your PC died, why do you put yourself through it? Why not consider alternatives as have been offered by the OP or subsequent posters?

To be clear, there's no right or wrong way to deal with this issue. Everyone's just stating preferences here and why they have them.

For any decision or adjudication, ask yourself, "Is this going to be fun for everyone?" and "Is this going to lead to the creation of an exciting, memorable story?"

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