How Much Lethality is Too Much?

Everyone,

That is the question.  In the "Ghoul Paralysis" thread, the question came up, how much 'difficulty' or 'lethality' (as measured in percentage chance to TPK the party per encounter) is enough.    The goal after all is to challenge the party, but a TPK usually does bad things to the campaign (IMX it usually terminates that particular campaign in fact) so it has to be challenging enough to be interesting but easy enough not to destroy the campaign.  So what is that number.  In that light I will repost one of my posts from the aforementioned thread explaining why I thought "Nintendo Difficulty" was too much for DND.


57287678 wrote:
In a roleplaying game I also consider it a sign of good game design: at early levels you encounter monsters that are nintendo hard. Seemingly unfair. You survive barely with teamwork. At later levels you look out for signs of those monsters and learn to prepare so you can face even a pack of them.



I fundamentally disagree and I'll explain why. It's a matter of numbers really. If you are running a campaign, if your party TPKs, that's probably the end of your campaign. That means the party has to survive every enounter and the monsters only have to get "lucky" once. Thus when you say "nintendo hard" I read, "I want to kill the party." Here's why?

Let's define "nintendo hard" as the party will survive the encounter 90% of the time (and many nintendo purists would claim I am being far too generous with this number, but let's go with it for sake of argument).

Let's also assume in a typical session you'll have four encounters, and let's say that everyone meets once per week.

To keep this simple, I will ignore more difficult boss encounters and the like [I'll leave it up as an excercise of the reader to input the new probability if you include "Boss" encounters which might have a 70% survival rate every fifth encounter or so.]

So let's calculate the probability that you DON'T TPK just from sheer bad luck:

Session 1: (Four encounters)==0.9EXP4==0.656 or about 66%

That means under "nintendo hard" you've just wrecked your campaign one third of the time unless you blatently pulled punches (and your players can always tell IMX)

Session 2: (Eight encounters)==0.9Exp8==0.430 or 43%

That means by session two you've wiped out your party 57% percent of the time.

Session 3; (Twelve encounters)==0.9Exp12==0.282 or 28.2%

That means you've wipe out your party about 82% of the time.

Now is it clear why I loathe Fake Difficult and so-called "Nintendo Hard" in RPGs?

-Polaris



I think my numbers show a lethality rate as little as 10% (or 90% survival) [which many Nintendo Difficulty purists would claim is far to generous] is still too high for DND.  So what is the acceptable rate?

-Polaris
Well, making a percent like in the example would be a mistake.  There is no intent to make it so hard, to any specific degree, and that's much too mathematical for most people.  Let me stay with my point, though, that there is no intent to make the game have a planned lethality rate.  By this, I mean that we just want you to have fun as game designers, and how hard the game is will be up to you and your DM.

Well, making a percent like in the example would be a mistake.  There is no intent to make it so hard, to any specific degree, and that's much too mathematical for most people.  Let me stay with my point, though, that there is no intent to make the game have a planned lethality rate.  By this, I mean that we just want you to have fun as game designers, and how hard the game is will be up to you and your DM.




Well I made it a percent to make a point.  Consider this:  If I were to plan an encounter for a party, and I told you (as one of the players) that this would be hard encounter, but I thought you'd live through it 9 times out of 10, would you think that's a fair encounter?

I think most of us would without thinking about it.  However, it turns out that this sort of difficulty is ultimately a party killer as I just proved.

What this shows (and I like presenting it this way because most people simply do not appreciate how odds stack against you when done over many interations), is that the real 'difficulty' or 'lethality' of each encounter (or even most encounters) has to be almost certain PC walkovers (99% more more) or else you get an unacceptably high campaign lethality rate.

For the record this fact always bothered me about 'old school' style DND, but I wasn't able to adequately voice this concern until I learned why I was bothered after learning some basic statistics.

-Polaris
Well, making a percent like in the example would be a mistake.  There is no intent to make it so hard, to any specific degree, and that's much too mathematical for most people.  Let me stay with my point, though, that there is no intent to make the game have a planned lethality rate.  By this, I mean that we just want you to have fun as game designers, and how hard the game is will be up to you and your DM.




Well I made it a percent to make a point.  Consider this:  If I were to plan an encounter for a party, and I told you (as one of the players) that this would be hard encounter, but I thought you'd live through it 9 times out of 10, would you think that's a fair encounter?

I think most of us would without thinking about it.  However, it turns out that this sort of difficulty is ultimately a party killer as I just proved.

What this shows (and I like presenting it this way because most people simply do not appreciate how odds stack against you when done over many interations), is that the real 'difficulty' or 'lethality' of each encounter (or even most encounters) has to be almost certain PC walkovers (99% more more) or else you get an unacceptably high campaign lethality rate.

For the record this fact always bothered me about 'old school' style DND, but I wasn't able to adequately voice this concern until I learned why I was bothered after learning some basic statistics.

-Polaris



Can you crunch out some numbers for 1, 2, and 5 percent?
This is something that, as far as I'm concerned, has two important properties:

A) It clearly varies extremely heavily from group to group, and even a single group might sometimes want to play a more or less lethal campaign.
B) It's something that's intrinsically very adjustable, all though all the more so if some hooks and guidance are built in.

I don't think the numbers are irrelevant or useless, but I think that nearly every DM is much, much better at pegging lethality by feel than by somehow trying to shoot for a particular percentage of lethality. Nobody's able to throw out some number of what percent of the time an encounter should kill somebody because regardless of what they feel a proper level of lethality is, most people don't plan or even think about it in those terms. I could reverse engineer things and determine that maybe technically 1.5% of encounters (or whatever) in games I run result in PC death, but that still doesn't tell a very good story about the game's lethality, and to make anything of that number, I have to kind of back-convert to how that feels.

Additionally, I don't think the concept of "Nintendo hard" is very relevant; Nintendo Hard games are difficult because they provide an extended entertainment experience by setting up situations where (for most mortals) extensive practice is required to be able to overcome the challenge. Challenging D&D encounters should not be Nintendo hard; they should require some mix of good planning, good execution, good discretion, good decision making, and good luck. D&D games (excepting maybe a few unusual ones at the very far fringe end of some tail) are not about repeatedly failing against the same challenge until you figure out the trick and build up the practice necessary to execute it. (The quoted post appears to be using "Nintendo Hard" to just mean "hard", though.)
Dwarves invented beer so they could toast to their axes. Dwarves invented axes to kill people and take their beer. Swanmay Syndrome: Despite the percentages given in the Monster Manual, in reality 100% of groups of swans contain a Swanmay, because otherwise the DM would not have put any swans in the game.
If you told your players, "You're going to all lose 1.5% of the time", it would defeat the purpose of the game because you're supposed to be able to hope you'll always survive, not "understand that eventually the numbers will catch up to you".  If the game is designed like that, it would be devastating.
Can you crunch out some numbers for 1, 2, and 5 percent?



Sure,  for simplicity I will keep all my other assumptions the same, ok?

Test 1:  TPK Lethality rate at 5%, Survival Rate 95%

Session 1: 0.95^4==0.815==81.5% survival rate (or 19% chance of TPK)

Session 2: 0.95^8==0.663==66.3% survival rate (or 33% chance of TPK)

Session 3: 0.95^12==0.540==54.0% survival rate (or 46% chance of TPK)

Note that this is far better than the 80% TPK rate at 10%, but it's still basically a coinflip whether your campaign survives less than a month.  I think it's safe to say this is still too much.

Test 2: TPK Lethality rate at 2%, Suvival Rate 98%

Session 1: 0.98^4==0.922==92% survival rate (or 8% chance TPK)

Session 2: 0.98^8==0.851==85% survival rate (or 15% chance TPK)

Session 3: 0.98^12==0.785==78.5% survival rate (or 22% chance TPK)

I note that this is far better than even the 95% but you are still looking at a campaign kill after three sessions of about 1/5.  Let's continue this to six weeks.

Session 4: 0.98^16==0.723==72% survival rate (28% chance TPK)

Session 5: 0.98^20==0.668==67% survival rate (33% chance TPK)

Session 6: 0.98^24==0.616==62% survival rate (38% chance TPK)

That means after a month and a half of solid play, you have about a 40% chance of killing off your entire party even with a seemingly generous 2% failure rate baked in.  I still think that's too high, but at least we are now seeing the light at the end of the proverbial tunnel.  We are least are approaching a failure rate that some may find acceptable (I don't yet personally).

Test 3: Lethality Rate 1%, Survival Rate 99%

Session 1: 0.99^4==0.961==96% survival rate (4% chance of TPK)

Session 2: 0.99^8==0.923==92% survival rate (8% chance of TPK)

Session 3: 0.99^12==0.886==89% survival rate (11% chance of TPK)

This is more like it.  Let's continue to week 6.

Session 4: 0.99^16==0.851==85% survival rate (15% chance of TPK)

Session 5: 0.99^20==0.818==82% survival rate (18% chance of TPK)

Session 6: 0.99^24==0.786==79% survival rate (21% chance of TPK)

This is a vast improvement, but I think it's clear that even a 99% chance of survival per encounter (from TPK) still results in a very lethal 
campaign!  Note that after a month, you still potentially kill your party 15% of the time just by luck, and by week six it's about 1/5.  Also remember that per my assumptions, we are NOT including more difficult boss battles or the like which would reduce these odds even more.

-Polaris
If you told your players, "You're going to all lose 1.5% of the time", it would defeat the purpose of the game because you're supposed to be able to hope you'll always survive, not "understand that eventually the numbers will catch up to you".  If the game is designed like that, it would be devastating.



The thing is by accepting a random element into the encounter (and it always happens), this is in effect what you are doing.  This becomes particularly true if the encounter has what is sometimes called "fake difficulty" (such as save or die effects) where the lethality is determined by a random roll and not by player skill/action.  It's one reason why I am such a staunch opponnet of save or die in TTRPGs of any sort (a bit from my own personal soap box).

-Polaris
Lesp,

I used the term "Nintendo hard" because in that other thread, the poster I was responding to thought that good RPGs should be "Nintendo Hard".  I was examining the logical consequence of that position.

-Polaris
The amount of lethality i want is very much based on what kind of campaign we are playing.

In campaigns where there is less lethality we do however often add other failure options.
Becouse character death and TPK aren't the only optiond for failure. 
 
Thank for you illustrating that.  I think data on this could be very useful to the designers during the playtest, where they can consider all factors.  For any individual group, however, there needs to be "significant to slight and infrequent" danger of TPK's in any given adventure, not every encounter.  Some groups will want significant danger, and others will want only slight and infrequent danger.  Most encounters shouldn't on par with one another, as this depends on the adventure, and also, most encounters should be with randomly encountered things.
The amount of lethality i want is very much based on what kind of campaign we are playing.

In campaigns where there is less lethality we do however often add other failure options.
Becouse character death and TPK aren't the only optiond for failure. 
 



Sure, but I hope my numbers hammer home a point that a little lethality especially when applied consistantly goes a LONG way.  In fact I find it's a common error of new DMs.  They make the encounters consistantly too lethal, and sure enough, the heavy hand of math has it's way....

-Polaris
Thank for you illustrating that.  I think data on this could be very useful to the designers during the playtest, where they can consider all factors.  For any individual group, however, there needs to be "significant to slight and infrequent" danger of TPK's in any given adventure, not every encounter.  Some groups will want significant danger, and others will want only slight and infrequent danger.  Most encounters shouldn't on par with one another, as this depends on the adventure, and also, most encounters should be with randomly encountered things.



I completely agree, but the math works the same for each adventure/encounter/whatever that could result in a TPK.  The rate may be slower (and thus the permitted lethality may be increased) because there will be fewer iterations, but the principle is the same.  I wish more DMs understood how just a small chance of failure iterated over many times, grows geometrically.

-Polaris
The amount of lethality i want is very much based on what kind of campaign we are playing.

In campaigns where there is less lethality we do however often add other failure options.
Becouse character death and TPK aren't the only optiond for failure. 
 



Sure, but I hope my numbers hammer home a point that a little lethality especially when applied consistantly goes a LONG way.  In fact I find it's a common error of new DMs.  They make the encounters consistantly too lethal, and sure enough, the heavy hand of math has it's way....

-Polaris



In practice, however, the numbers seldom lead to any PC's death, let-alone a TPK.  You have to do something foolish, story-wise, to put yourself at a disadvantage or there is a ton of flexibility.
In practice, however, the numbers seldom lead to any PC's death, let-alone a TPK.  You have to do something foolish, story-wise, to put yourself at a disadvantage or there is a ton of flexibility.



*nod*  Quite true, but that usually (IMX anyway) means that the DM has an "oh fecal matter" moment behind the screens and skews the encounter.  In fact we saw Mearls do precisely that during the livecast.  I was (and am) critical of him for doing this because it was a playtest, but I am nearly certain that all of us as DMs have done this (I certainly have).

-Polaris
Personally I reject the notion on a couple of different angles.

1. TPK is what you are using as a baseline.  A TPK is not something that happens very often even when there are deaths.  Very often, a TPK comes because the players choose not to retreat, or because they have fundamentally failed at using player skill.  This doesn't qualify as 'Nintendo Hard'.

2. Even when 'the math' says something will happen, it is very important to remember that that math is only applicable on a gross scale, counting each and every single table in the world in each potential circumstance, with variable encounter status, encounter difficulty, and so forth making tiny permutations to it constantly.  IE...it can't be quantified on a white board with any -real- accuracy.  I may have 100% chance of 'TPK' and survive it 1,000 times.  Math helps get a general picture, but that is -all- it will do.

Now, all that notwithstanding, I think each table has to judge the lethality of a game on their own.  I don't see a percentage as something that can be calculated even within a gross ballpark for the vast majority of encounters, and even when you can get a generic feel for it, individual changes like magic items, surges remaining, bad luck rolls, good luck rolls, etc inform a potentially different outcome.  IOW...most of this is pedantic number-wankery that serves little real purpose.

How lethal should it be?  As lethal as the players will allow, and not one bit more or less.

"Lightning...it flashes bright, then fades away.  It can't protect, it can only destroy."

I mean, what really gets you killed are bad strategic decisions, not bad tactical decisions.  You can make mistakes in battle, but if your strategy is bad enough, you are in jeopardy.  And where you go and how well you prepare and rest are part of your strategy.  The dice rolls will accommodate whatever you're doing, but you have to use caution and assuming you do use caution, you can play indefinitely.
How much 'difficulty' or 'lethality' (as measured in percentage chance to TPK the party per encounter) is enough.  



Seaon to taste.


By which I mean, that should be entirely within the control of the DM and the style of campaign he/she wants to run.

Personally I reject the notion on a couple of different angles.

1. TPK is what you are using as a baseline.  A TPK is not something that happens very often even when there are deaths.  Very often, a TPK comes because the players choose not to retreat, or because they have fundamentally failed at using player skill.  This doesn't qualify as 'Nintendo Hard'.



It's actually very hard (unless you are a wizard with Teleport) to retreat from combat in DND including Next.  This has always been true.  What's more many monsters will be fighting you on their home ground and will often (IMX usually) be faster than you.  I also really started this to illustrate forcibly my objection to the notion that "Nintendo Hard" was a good design principle to base a TTRPG around.


2. Even when 'the math' says something will happen, it is very important to remember that that math is only applicable on a gross scale, counting each and every single table in the world in each potential circumstance, with variable encounter status, encounter difficulty, and so forth making tiny permutations to it constantly.  IE...it can't be quantified on a white board with any -real- accuracy.  I may have 100% chance of 'TPK' and survive it 1,000 times.  Math helps get a general picture, but that is -all- it will do.



The math is really codified logic.  It shows the general expectations and thus it is very important on a gross design level.  While it's true that each individual encounter can't be predicted, I can use statistics to predict what the average aggregate outcome will be.  I reject the notion that this merely "general" information. It's very important information because it helps us understand how our game works and hopefully helps us understand what's too hard and not hard enough BEFORE you have to fudge like a mad-man because you (as the DM) made a mistake.  It'll probably happen anyway a few times (no one is perfect) but at least I am hopefully giving you fellow DMs some insight here.


Now, all that notwithstanding, I think each table has to judge the lethality of a game on their own.  I don't see a percentage as something that can be calculated even within a gross ballpark for the vast majority of encounters, and even when you can get a generic feel for it, individual changes like magic items, surges remaining, bad luck rolls, good luck rolls, etc inform a potentially different outcome.  IOW...most of this is pedantic number-wankery that serves little real purpose.

How lethal should it be?  As lethal as the players will allow, and not one bit more or less.



Yes, but it's also important once this general agreement is made that the DM not make mistakes on this, and mistakes are very easy to make if you don't understand how it iterates.

-Polaris
How much 'difficulty' or 'lethality' (as measured in percentage chance to TPK the party per encounter) is enough.  



Seaon to taste.


By which I mean, that should be entirely within the control of the DM and the style of campaign he/she wants to run.




Obviously, but what I contend is that most DM's don't really know how to know and adjust to taste because the mathematics of serial lethality are not transparent.

-Polaris
I mean, what really gets you killed are bad strategic decisions, not bad tactical decisions.  You can make mistakes in battle, but if your strategy is bad enough, you are in jeopardy.  And where you go and how well you prepare and rest are part of your strategy.  The dice rolls will accommodate whatever you're doing, but you have to use caution and assuming you do use caution, you can play indefinitely.



Sure, but I am ignoring that and worrying about pure luck.  After all this is a spinoff discussion from Ghoul Paralysis and fake difficulty (although this analysis applies to real difficulty as well).  I am assuming the players are competant, but that because you have a random element they will all die anyway a certain (small) percentage of the time.  That is obviously true if you have save or dies or other lethal challenges that depend strongly on single die rolls.

-Polaris
Your numbers are all well and good, on paper; but, they just don't stack as presented, in real life.

90% survivability is just that: 90% survivability, each time. Statistics are one thing, probabilities are another.

I've been playing D&D for over 30 years, with what people today would call the "grittier", more lethal style, and I can count the number of TPKs I've experienced (on both sides of the DM screen) on the ends of a siingle pencil. Individual character deaths have happened much more frequently than that; but they can be handled though Resurrection or Raise Dead and the like (and so don't have such a permanent effect).
And also, less seen today is the act of running away, which was essential to party survival and success originally.  The game was originally all a big dungeon, and you never knew what was in the next room but you pushed deeper knowing that the deeper you got the harder it would get.
Your numbers are all well and good, on paper; but, they just don't stack as presented, in real life.

90% survivability is just that: 90% survivability, each time. Statistics are one thing, probabilities are another.

I've been playing D&D for over 30 years, with what people today would call the "grittier", more lethal style, and I can count the number of TPKs I've experienced (on both sides of the DM screen) on the ends of a siingle pencil. Individual character deaths have happened much more frequently than that; but they can be handled though Resurrection or Raise Dead and the like (and so don't have such a permanent effect).



Yes but how lethal were your campaigns really?  I've just explained why many DMs in fact will make the overall campaign less deadly than it first appears (and may not even realize they are doing it!).  I also contend still that most DMs don't really appreciate how little "TPK" lethality it takes to make the entire campaign simply unsustainably too lethal (and many DMs will hide this by fudging when the dice go bad...which they always will given sufficent iterations of rolling dice). 

-Polaris

P.S.  I am not trying to make any specific commentary about your (or anyone else's campaign specifically).  My question was a general one and one geared to the psychology of the DM and players.
These are good questions, and the DMG should give considerable guidance on them.  I was asked by some new players I will be running a game for how I felt about character deaths, and they want the game to be very risky.  It comes down to a conscious choice everyone should get a say in, I think.
I mean, what really gets you killed are bad strategic decisions, not bad tactical decisions.  You can make mistakes in battle, but if your strategy is bad enough, you are in jeopardy.  And where you go and how well you prepare and rest are part of your strategy.  The dice rolls will accommodate whatever you're doing, but you have to use caution and assuming you do use caution, you can play indefinitely.



maybe somthing that ties into this point.
when we play DND 4th we do have encounterd that go badly, and afterward the players go well that went bad what if we had made these tactical choices difrently.
Things like this combat would have gone a lot better if i had used daily power X early on, It was a bad choice for me in that spot as it alouwed the enemies to corner me.

But in the playtest I heared somthing I never hear in 4th edition after a encounter that goes badly.
"well we had bad rolls and there was nothing we could do"



 
I mean, what really gets you killed are bad strategic decisions, not bad tactical decisions.  You can make mistakes in battle, but if your strategy is bad enough, you are in jeopardy.  And where you go and how well you prepare and rest are part of your strategy.  The dice rolls will accommodate whatever you're doing, but you have to use caution and assuming you do use caution, you can play indefinitely.



maybe somthing that ties into this point.
when we play DND 4th we do have encounterd that go badly, and afterward the players go well that went bad what if we had made these tactical choices difrently.
Things like this combat would have gone a lot better if i had used daily power X early on, It was a bad choice for me in that spot as it alouwed the enemies to corner me.

But in the playtest I heared somthing I never hear in 4th edition after a encounter that goes badly.
"well we had bad rolls and there was nothing we could do"



 



In terms of articulating what everyone's expectations should be, though, it is just too hard to speak to whatever specific tactical decisions are made or which die rolls go badly for someone.  The mechanics need to be balanced, and I'd have confidence in WotC that they will be.

I could have replied to my players, "Well, I can't tell you how likely you'll face deaths because I don't know how you play yet," but then it occurred to me that if I said, "I don't know how well you play," I'd be turning it too much into a competition to do well instead of just to try to enjoy it.  I don't believe you can hard-press people into making wise tactical choices, but I know that given time and advice, players can make pretty good plans.  The option to run away will usually be there, too, and a friendly DM will give warnings about any grave dangers that are present.
A percentile TPK rate is a useless term to calculate. It only considers some of the many parameters that would be needed for such a calculation. And since some of those parameters are things like Human Decision, Roleplaying Choices, Type of Campaign, DM Ruthlessness....you can't quantify the end result because you can't measure all the parameters. Any good scientist or engineer knows that you can't solve a problem without dealing with all the variables. This is precisely why predicting the weather is so difficult. This is precisely why it takes computers to analyze the stress or thermal conductivity on a 3-dimensional object. These things CAN be calculated for 1-dimension and 2 simple objects. But that's not a real-world example. Reality is a lot more complicated than that. And those difficulties only arrise from the number of simultaneous equations of a well-defined physical system. Once you add the human element...well, your equations go right out the window.

The RIGHT question to ask, however is the following:

"How many encounters and of what relative strength is a party of a given level and size expected to be able to fight between Long Rests and still have a reasonable chance of survival."

Let's look at the variables involved:


  • Number of consecutive encounters

  • The strength of each encounter

  • Party level

  • Party size

  • No Long Rests, although maybe Short Rests?

  • Reasonable Chance of Survival (a very measureable term as it varies greatly between gaming tables)


Despite its complexity, this math has already been done, though I would venture to say it's still in-work. It's easily found in the DM Guidelines document under Building Combat Encounters. There has existed a section similar to this in every edition of the game so far.


The calculation involves figuring out average monster output damage vs the average party survivability, based on a standard and balanced class composition. Then it involves figuring out the opposite; how much damage can the party dish out against the monsters to defeat them.


But it's VERY important to remember that these tables are, even though they were made with the best intentions, still only suggestions. If a given party has an unusual class composition or unusual number of members, these numbers will become less accurate.



tl;dr  The OP's question is immeasureable given the complexity of the variables involved. Instead, use the recommended encounter tables in the DMG with a heavy dash of Common Sense and Imagination. Problem solved.

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Personally I reject the notion on a couple of different angles.

1. TPK is what you are using as a baseline.  A TPK is not something that happens very often even when there are deaths.  Very often, a TPK comes because the players choose not to retreat, or because they have fundamentally failed at using player skill.  This doesn't qualify as 'Nintendo Hard'.

2. Even when 'the math' says something will happen, it is very important to remember that that math is only applicable on a gross scale, counting each and every single table in the world in each potential circumstance, with variable encounter status, encounter difficulty, and so forth making tiny permutations to it constantly.  IE...it can't be quantified on a white board with any -real- accuracy.  I may have 100% chance of 'TPK' and survive it 1,000 times.  Math helps get a general picture, but that is -all- it will do.

Now, all that notwithstanding, I think each table has to judge the lethality of a game on their own.  I don't see a percentage as something that can be calculated even within a gross ballpark for the vast majority of encounters, and even when you can get a generic feel for it, individual changes like magic items, surges remaining, bad luck rolls, good luck rolls, etc inform a potentially different outcome.  IOW...most of this is pedantic number-wankery that serves little real purpose.

How lethal should it be?  As lethal as the players will allow, and not one bit more or less.

100% agree

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Sounds great, Ramzour, but even then the expectations won't measure up in practice.  The game demands flexibility, that's what it is, and feedback about what percent of parties experienced TPK's and how it happened would be great use to WotC right now.  You can't balance things with an EL, in my opinion.
And also, less seen today is the act of running away, which was essential to party survival and success originally.  The game was originally all a big dungeon, and you never knew what was in the next room but you pushed deeper knowing that the deeper you got the harder it would get.



RUN AWAY! RUN AWAY!

Run Away!

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Make 5e Saving Throws better using Ramzour's Six Ability Save System!

 

Lost Mine of Phandelver: || Problems and Ideas with the adventure ||  Finding the Ghost of Neverwinter Wood ||

Giving classes iconic abilities that don't break the game: Ramzour's Class Defining Ability system.

Rules for a simple non-XP based leveling up system, using the Proficiency Bonus

 

And also, less seen today is the act of running away, which was essential to party survival and success originally.  The game was originally all a big dungeon, and you never knew what was in the next room but you pushed deeper knowing that the deeper you got the harder it would get.



RUN AWAY! RUN AWAY!

Run Away!




AWESOME, JUST FREAKIN AWESOME!  "He who runs away lives to fight another day".
 Nonsense,  my original question is very valid and very measurable.  All the other issues that are mentioned are in effect red herrings.  Sure they will affect the TPK/Lethality rate, but whenever you have to survive multiple encounters, it is perfectly fair to ask what the chance was each encounter might have resulted in a TPK.

The math and analysis is very simple but it's very sound.  We just don't get to ignore it because it forces us to ask uncomfortable questions about our DMing styles or our assumptions about how we all play DND.

-Polaris
Sounds great, Ramzour, but even then the expectations won't measure up in practice.  The game demands flexibility, that's what it is, and feedback about what percent of parties experienced TPK's and how it happened would be great use to WotC right now.  You can't balance things with an EL, in my opinion.

Agreed. The moment a DM becomes a slave to the Rules or to the Dice, he stops being a good DM. The Rules are just there to provide a framework to play upon. The Dice are just there to resolve conflicts with randomness. But the most important part of the game is not found in ANY book. It's sitting at the table with your friends. Or, since I've been playing a game online, sitting in front of a Google Hangout window.

Please introduce yourself to the new D&D 5e forums in this very friendly thread started by Pukunui!

 

Make 5e Saving Throws better using Ramzour's Six Ability Save System!

 

Lost Mine of Phandelver: || Problems and Ideas with the adventure ||  Finding the Ghost of Neverwinter Wood ||

Giving classes iconic abilities that don't break the game: Ramzour's Class Defining Ability system.

Rules for a simple non-XP based leveling up system, using the Proficiency Bonus

 

And also, less seen today is the act of running away, which was essential to party survival and success originally.  The game was originally all a big dungeon, and you never knew what was in the next room but you pushed deeper knowing that the deeper you got the harder it would get.



RUN AWAY! RUN AWAY!

Run Away!




That's nice if you can.

In DND of late it's always been hard to run away even if the players are psychologically prepared to do so (and as suprisingly high percentage of players will fight to the death by instinct).  You are typically fighting on the NPC's home ground, if you withdraw, the NPC can still close and attack usually (especially if the NPC/Monster is faster than your party which IS often the case).  If you turn and run, the monsters will get free attacks on you (this is never good), and many monsters (esp beasts and such) will often STILL be able to engage.

It'sa lot harder to run away in DND than people tend to think even in Next.

-Polaris

 Nonsense,  my original question is very valid and very measurable.  All the other issues that are mentioned are in effect red herrings.  Sure they will affect the TPK/Lethality rate, but whenever you have to survive multiple encounters, it is perfectly fair to ask what the chance was each encounter might have resulted in a TPK.

The math and analysis is very simple but it's very sound.  We just don't get to ignore it because it forces us to ask uncomfortable questions about our DMing styles or our assumptions about how we all play DND.

-Polaris

Then if you want to calculate this TPK/Lethality Rate, come up with a set of variables and equations and do it. Don't just say 90% TPK...times a bunch of encounters...oops, everyone died.

Figure out all of the variables. Identify and measure as many of them as you can. Make reasonable assumptions for the rest. Then calculate it. Show your work.

Please introduce yourself to the new D&D 5e forums in this very friendly thread started by Pukunui!

 

Make 5e Saving Throws better using Ramzour's Six Ability Save System!

 

Lost Mine of Phandelver: || Problems and Ideas with the adventure ||  Finding the Ghost of Neverwinter Wood ||

Giving classes iconic abilities that don't break the game: Ramzour's Class Defining Ability system.

Rules for a simple non-XP based leveling up system, using the Proficiency Bonus

 

And also, less seen today is the act of running away, which was essential to party survival and success originally.  The game was originally all a big dungeon, and you never knew what was in the next room but you pushed deeper knowing that the deeper you got the harder it would get.



RUN AWAY! RUN AWAY!

Run Away!



But I am paralysed by the ghoul ;)
 Nonsense,  my original question is very valid and very measurable.  All the other issues that are mentioned are in effect red herrings.  Sure they will affect the TPK/Lethality rate, but whenever you have to survive multiple encounters, it is perfectly fair to ask what the chance was each encounter might have resulted in a TPK.

The math and analysis is very simple but it's very sound.  We just don't get to ignore it because it forces us to ask uncomfortable questions about our DMing styles or our assumptions about how we all play DND.

-Polaris



I don't think it's fair to call "all the other issues red herrings".  Each encounter is an unknown, a variable.  The DM will define "x" in his own campaign, and even re-define it for every encounter.

If you ask the DM, "what percent of your encounters are life-threatening", that is something he or she can answer, but only because it will reflect the whole picture for how he runs the game.
And also, less seen today is the act of running away, which was essential to party survival and success originally.  The game was originally all a big dungeon, and you never knew what was in the next room but you pushed deeper knowing that the deeper you got the harder it would get.



RUN AWAY! RUN AWAY!

Run Away!




That's nice if you can.

In DND of late it's always been hard to run away even if the players are psychologically prepared to do so (and as suprisingly high percentage of players will fight to the death by instinct).  You are typically fighting on the NPC's home ground, if you withdraw, the NPC can still close and attack usually (especially if the NPC/Monster is faster than your party which IS often the case).  If you turn and run, the monsters will get free attacks on you (this is never good), and many monsters (esp beasts and such) will often STILL be able to engage.

It'sa lot harder to run away in DND than people tend to think even in Next.

-Polaris


Nonsense. Running away is a perfectly valid option, in almost every scenario. Just because parties don't do it doesn't mean they're incapable of it. The reason most people probably don't run away is because video games told them not to.

Please introduce yourself to the new D&D 5e forums in this very friendly thread started by Pukunui!

 

Make 5e Saving Throws better using Ramzour's Six Ability Save System!

 

Lost Mine of Phandelver: || Problems and Ideas with the adventure ||  Finding the Ghost of Neverwinter Wood ||

Giving classes iconic abilities that don't break the game: Ramzour's Class Defining Ability system.

Rules for a simple non-XP based leveling up system, using the Proficiency Bonus

 

 Nonsense,  my original question is very valid and very measurable.  All the other issues that are mentioned are in effect red herrings.  Sure they will affect the TPK/Lethality rate, but whenever you have to survive multiple encounters, it is perfectly fair to ask what the chance was each encounter might have resulted in a TPK.

The math and analysis is very simple but it's very sound.  We just don't get to ignore it because it forces us to ask uncomfortable questions about our DMing styles or our assumptions about how we all play DND.

-Polaris

Then if you want to calculate this TPK/Lethality Rate, come up with a set of variables and equations and do it. Don't just say 90% TPK...times a bunch of encounters...oops, everyone died.

Figure out all of the variables. Identify and measure as many of them as you can. Make reasonable assumptions for the rest. Then calculate it. Show your work.



You again refuse to admit or understand the point I am making.  I will ask you once again  since you have chosen to participate in my thread:

What level of lethality is acceptable to you?!

You are trying to make this into a hugely complicate question that requires differential calculus to solve, but it really isn't.  The math is opaque and counter-intuitive, yes, but the concept is very simple:

Every time your party engages in lethal combat, there is a chance the party will lose hardcore (TPK) nmo matter how small.  What amount is acceptable in the game?  I am not worried at the moment about the whys and wherefores of the lethality.  Those can be answered and isolated later once we know how much basic lethality is acceptable.

You are trying to make it seem like this is a huge and complicated issue, and really it's not.  It's simply counter-intuitive and forces a lot of people to really think about how they DM, how they choose encounters, and just how deadly their combats really are rather than think they are.

I think these are issues that deserve attention.

-Polaris
And also, less seen today is the act of running away, which was essential to party survival and success originally.  The game was originally all a big dungeon, and you never knew what was in the next room but you pushed deeper knowing that the deeper you got the harder it would get.



RUN AWAY! RUN AWAY!

Run Away!



But I am paralysed by the ghoul ;)

I will mourn you as I flee, leaving you for ghoul food, go back to town, hire an artist to make a painting of the bloody scene, and hang the painting outside of the dungeon entrance as a warning to all others, so that you will not have died in vain. I will do this for you and you will live on, in memory and that painting.

Please introduce yourself to the new D&D 5e forums in this very friendly thread started by Pukunui!

 

Make 5e Saving Throws better using Ramzour's Six Ability Save System!

 

Lost Mine of Phandelver: || Problems and Ideas with the adventure ||  Finding the Ghost of Neverwinter Wood ||

Giving classes iconic abilities that don't break the game: Ramzour's Class Defining Ability system.

Rules for a simple non-XP based leveling up system, using the Proficiency Bonus

 

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