Save or suck solution

Spells like finger of death and hold monster are problematic, they suck the challenge out of an encounter real quick if they work (which thanks to crappy saves and insane spell dcs they generally do), or they waste a turn.

The HP threshhold thing doesn't really solve this swingyness.

So what if we set it up on a graduated system: A spell like finger of death auto-kills anyone below a certain level who faisl the save, and if they make the save they only wish they had died because of the HP damage and horrible racking agony, however if the target is above that level they take the damage and agony if they fail, anda  reduced amount fo damage and agony if they make the save.

Basically the idea is that powerful NPCs and monsters shouldn't drop dead or freeze in their tracks in the first round of a fight, or be rendered helpless by a single action on the part of a player, but these spells can still make their lives harder and the common run of beasts and bruisers are still quickly felled by such dread sorcery.

How's that sound?
Spells like finger of death and hold monster are problematic, they suck the challenge out of an encounter real quick if they work (which thanks to crappy saves and insane spell dcs they generally do), or they waste a turn.

The HP threshhold thing doesn't really solve this swingyness.

So what if we set it up on a graduated system: A spell like finger of death auto-kills anyone below a certain level who faisl the save, and if they make the save they only wish they had died because of the HP damage and horrible racking agony, however if the target is above that level they take the damage and agony if they fail, anda  reduced amount fo damage and agony if they make the save.

Basically the idea is that powerful NPCs and monsters shouldn't drop dead or freeze in their tracks in the first round of a fight, or be rendered helpless by a single action on the part of a player, but these spells can still make their lives harder and the common run of beasts and bruisers are still quickly felled by such dread sorcery.

How's that sound?



I like this, but I wouldn't want all save or die spells to turn into just more damage. So maybe something where higher level monsters lose an action or something?

The Oberoni fallacy only applies to broken rules, not rules you don't like. If a rule you don't like can be easily ignored, it should exist in the game for those who will enjoy it.
Like a stun (non-helpless), Bobinchese?  On a failed save, that is?

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

Like a stun (non-helpless), Bobinchese?  On a failed save, that is?



Yeah something like that. We already have plenty of damaging spells, so it would be nice to turn stronger spells into something like a status condition. If you're buring a 6th or 7th level spell slot, that condition could be really powerful, but for a 1st or second level eh not so much.
The Oberoni fallacy only applies to broken rules, not rules you don't like. If a rule you don't like can be easily ignored, it should exist in the game for those who will enjoy it.
That's why I mentioned the agony bit, reduced forms of finger of death might involve some damage and/or penalties to actions beyond curling up in the fetal position and weeping, reduced hold person/monster would be immobilization followed by slow, etc. etc.
That's why I mentioned the agony bit, reduced forms of finger of death might involve some damage and/or penalties to actions beyond curling up in the fetal position and weeping, reduced hold person/monster would be immobilization followed by slow, etc. etc.


I actually really like hold person turning into slow.

Caster: "Ok I cast hold person DC 17"
DM: "The spell seems to take hold, but the dragon slowly moves his head forward to take a bite out of player X" 
The Oberoni fallacy only applies to broken rules, not rules you don't like. If a rule you don't like can be easily ignored, it should exist in the game for those who will enjoy it.
I like level thresholds like you suggest much better than HP thresholds.

I had a solution a while back...not sure what I think about it now.

What if each save or suck spell required 2 saving throws at casting. If neither roll succeeds, the victim suffers the most severe effect of the spell or hazard. If one saves, the victim suffers the moderate effect. If both save, there is no effect. This would have worked better if there was no advantage/disadvantage rule. I'm not sure how it could work with advantage/disadvantage. It basically was a way to rework 4e type saves for flesh to stone, etc. into one resolution set of rolls, rather than having to track and roll another save on another round.

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Better than the current model but still has the issue where you're letting the mages completely wipe key creatures (and thus probably the encounter) with a single action.
That's why I mentioned the agony bit, reduced forms of finger of death might involve some damage and/or penalties to actions beyond curling up in the fetal position and weeping, reduced hold person/monster would be immobilization followed by slow, etc. etc.



Yah, I thought that was where you and Bobinchese were going.

I approve!  (I'll bet you were just waiting to move forward on that suggestion just because I hadn't approved it yet, right? )

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

I dont like the idea of more than one save it makes it feel like a spell caster is always casting with disadvantage or that a target always has advantage against magic.
So.... 4e's "less powerful dailies with minor effect on a miss."

[Hides under a desk from impending retaliatory nuclear strike] 
So.... 4e's "less powerful dailies with minor effect on a miss."

[Hides under a desk from impending retaliatory nuclear strike] 



Pretty much.  But shhhhh...we can't let others know that!

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

So.... 4e's "less powerful dailies with minor effect on a miss."

[Hides under a desk from impending retaliatory nuclear strike] 

Let's take it a step further.  Why not do away almost completely with save or suck/die spells/powers/whatever?  JUST LIKE 4E.

After all, if save or die/suck only would work on lower level creatures, what good would they be?  Why do people keep buying into this bounded accuracy aspect where they think lower level monsters should continue to constitute a significant challenge? 

Save or die/suck .... sucks.  Just get over the mentality that says that a caster should be able to drop an opponent that is a significant threat with one action because ... magic.  That kind of thing should be very rare, for any class, and only seen in gamecraft theoretical charop situations.

Some people might enjoy that way of playing, and that's fine.  Put it in a module then.

OD&D, 1E and 2E challenged the player. 3E challenged the character, not the player. Now 4E takes it a step further by challenging a GROUP OF PLAYERS to work together as a TEAM. That's why I love 4E.

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"Challenge" is overrated.  "Immersion" is usually just a more pretentious way of saying "having fun playing D&D."

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Because the mage players want their bloody one hit KOs and this is the best way to keep them around without lettign them screw up the game.

It's called a compromise. 
Because the mage players want their bloody one hit KOs and this is the best way to keep them around without lettign them screw up the game.

It's called a compromise. 

Hmmm ... good point.  Compromising in this case is good.  I'd prefer that they get over their caster supremacy obsession, but you can't make people change.  All you can do is be persuasive and offer an olive branch.

And really, I hope we see some changes to the save DC thing coming soon.  But that's another topic. 

OD&D, 1E and 2E challenged the player. 3E challenged the character, not the player. Now 4E takes it a step further by challenging a GROUP OF PLAYERS to work together as a TEAM. That's why I love 4E.

"Your ability to summon a horde of celestial superbeings at will is making my ... BMX skills look a bit redundant."

"People treat their lack of imagination as if it's the measure of what's silly. Which is silly." - Noon

"Challenge" is overrated.  "Immersion" is usually just a more pretentious way of saying "having fun playing D&D."

"Falling down is how you grow.  Staying down is how you die.  It's not what happens to you, it's what you do after it happens.”

Spells like finger of death and hold monster are problematic, they suck the challenge out of an encounter real quick if they work (which thanks to crappy saves and insane spell dcs they generally do)....




You like math?  Let's do some math.

What?  The DC for Finger of Death is a CON saving throw against 10+int+spell bonus.  As a 7th level spell , assuming an 18 INT wizard, that makes a DC of 10+4(level 14 wizard)+4(int bonus), or 18.  An equivalent level fighter would likely have an 18 CON (or higher...a Glabrezu, a 13th level monster, has a 19 CON and is far from atypical), but let's say 16 just to be totally siding with Rampant here.  That's +3 to the roll.  So the DC is effectively having to roll a 15 or better on a d20.

So the spell is still going to fail 25% of the time.  One qaurter of the time, your highest level spell, the one you've been saving all game, the ONLY chance at a 7th level spell a generalist wizard will get until an extended overnight rest...has a 1 in 4 chance of fizzling for half damage.

Well at least that damage is catastrophically high, right?

Not really.  Finger of Death kills outright any creature of less than 40 hitpoints.  If you're a 14th level wizard, how many, oh, level 12 or better monsters have less than 40 hit points?
On a cursory glance through the Bestiary?  That would be....none.  In fact, I couldn't find (again, a cursory glance) a monster with less than 40 hp until I got down to level FOUR.  And if it doesn't kill outright, it does 12d8 necrotic (barring that save-for-half damage noted above).  That's an average of ((4.5*12).75)+(((4.5*12)/2).25) or  40.5+6.75 or 47.25 damage, on average.  Again, No creature of NEARLY 14th level will be slain by that.  For most I see in a casual skim, that's about 1/3 of their HP.

And that's it.  Your one 7th level spell, on average, will do less than 1/3 hp damage to a level equivalent enemy.   So anybody who is crying out about "balance?"  Yeah, you should be SHRIEKING about the underpowered wizard getting spells which are effectively useless against level-appropriate challenges, or even challenges less than one half of the wizard's level.  You want math?  THAT'S your math.

Wizard's are terribly underpowered.  The nerfers have already won.

Basically the idea is that powerful NPCs and monsters shouldn't drop dead or freeze in their tracks in the first round of a fight, or be rendered helpless by a single action on the part of a player, but these spells can still make their lives harder and the common run of beasts and bruisers are still quickly felled by such dread sorcery.




Oh please, just be honest.  What you really want is for PCs not to be effected by SoD type stuff.
Most likely your own PCs. 
Because as a DM, if youre worried about it, then it's simple: you don't use it on them....  But when you're not the DM your only real recourse is to whine about it & roll high.

Seriously, if the PCs are having  too easy a time of it as they zap monsters to dust or whatever?  The answer isn't to rob them of that joy outright, it's to just add another monster (or three) to the scene, occasionally add "additional (and-hithro-unkown-to-the-PCs) modifiers" to the solo beasties save, etc etc etc.
You could also try making a plan for what happens if/when a key NPC etc comes to an unplanned, early end....  
Basically the idea is that powerful NPCs and monsters shouldn't drop dead or freeze in their tracks in the first round of a fight, or be rendered helpless by a single action on the part of a player, but these spells can still make their lives harder and the common run of beasts and bruisers are still quickly felled by such dread sorcery.




Oh please, just be honest.  What you really want is for PCs not to be effected by SoD type stuff.
Most likely your own PCs. 
Because as a DM, if youre worried about it, then it's simple: you don't use it on them....  But when you're not the DM your only real recourse is to whine about it & roll high.

Seriously, if the PCs are having  too easy a time of it as they zap monsters to dust or whatever?  The answer isn't to rob them of that joy outright, it's to just add another monster (or three) to the scene, occasionally add "additional (and-hithro-unkown-to-the-PCs) modifiers" to the solo beasties save, etc etc etc.
You could also try making a plan for what happens if/when a key NPC etc comes to an unplanned, early end....  




I gotta say the thing about save or suck that annoys me the most is that they are anticlimatic because there is little you can do about the situation.

I like the situation of finger of death or poison taking a few rounds to take affect so that PC can attempt to do something - use nature or healing skills or spells - while the combat is still going go.

Spells with save or suck spells are any opportunity to throw down a challenge to the players - to see if they can adapt to one of their numbers going down and thus have some fun.
I like the situation of finger of death or poison taking a few rounds to take affect so that PC can attempt to do something - use nature or healing skills or spells - while the combat is still going go.

Spells with save or suck spells are any opportunity to throw down a challenge to the players - to see if they can adapt to one of their numbers going down and thus have some fun.

The best thing about it is that it works both ways too ... say the PC Wizard throws down a save or die/suck spell on an enemy but it takes three failed saves to fully take effect.  That's dramatic tension and not an automatic win button.  The monsters can still continue to be a threat while the players wait to see if the game-ending spell is going to work.  I approve!

OD&D, 1E and 2E challenged the player. 3E challenged the character, not the player. Now 4E takes it a step further by challenging a GROUP OF PLAYERS to work together as a TEAM. That's why I love 4E.

"Your ability to summon a horde of celestial superbeings at will is making my ... BMX skills look a bit redundant."

"People treat their lack of imagination as if it's the measure of what's silly. Which is silly." - Noon

"Challenge" is overrated.  "Immersion" is usually just a more pretentious way of saying "having fun playing D&D."

"Falling down is how you grow.  Staying down is how you die.  It's not what happens to you, it's what you do after it happens.”

... Really that's where you go? that's your plan of attack? accuse me of not wanting to subject Players to SoD? even if that is a bad thing (since I've found that players are more willing to Roleplay when they're not constantly in danger of losing their character based on a single die roll) it doesn't invalidate my argument since the problematic aspects of allowing PCs to have save or sucks that function in the current style remains true regardless of whatever agendas I may or may not possess.

Seriously if you're gonna argue with me do a better job.


P-daddy, Like i said save or sucks, especially single target save or sucks, are either encounter breaking or a waste of a turn. THis addresses both problems, it allows figner of death to be a viable useful spell against many targets at any level of play.

This isn't some ploy yo nerf mages, this is a suggestion to re-construct problematic spells in such a fashion that the wizard isn't bouncing between wasting everyone's time and breakign the game. 
So your "solution" is that once a day, a wizard will be allowed to do the average damage that a fighter of the same level does Every Single Round?
How about no.
 I want save or dies but better saves than 3.5. More like AD&D were you made your saves around 75-95% of the time at higher levels and maybe have abilities/feats that grant advantage on saves or rerolls.

 Fear is the Mind Killer

 

I like abilty damage for these kinds of spells. Dex for Hold spell, Con for Finger of Death, save for half.
Basically the idea is that powerful NPCs and monsters shouldn't drop dead or freeze in their tracks in the first round of a fight, or be rendered helpless by a single action on the part of a player, but these spells can still make their lives harder and the common run of beasts and bruisers are still quickly felled by such dread sorcery.


Oh please, just be honest.  What you really want is for PCs not to be effected by SoD type stuff.
Most likely your own PCs. 
Because as a DM, if youre worried about it, then it's simple: you don't use it on them....  But when you're not the DM your only real recourse is to whine about it & roll high.

Seriously, if the PCs are having  too easy a time of it as they zap monsters to dust or whatever?  The answer isn't to rob them of that joy outright, it's to just add another monster (or three) to the scene, occasionally add "additional (and-hithro-unkown-to-the-PCs) modifiers" to the solo beasties save, etc etc etc.
You could also try making a plan for what happens if/when a key NPC etc comes to an unplanned, early end....  



I agree that this can work in many situations, but sometimes you want a boss monster to feel like a boss. I would suggest that these lesser effects be put into some legendary template along with numerous other things to make the monster feel more "bossy". If there are two giant demons fighting the party and the wizard is able to use his best spell to defeat one of them then that's fine because he didn't end the combat. But if there's only one giant boss monster demon, then that demon should take at least a few rounds to kill or it doesn't feel like a boss fight.

I also dislike spells that revolve around HP because as a PC I never know how much HP a monster has. So I never want to use those spells for fear that the monster will have too much health and I wasted the spell or only 10 HP left and I wasted the spell. 
The Oberoni fallacy only applies to broken rules, not rules you don't like. If a rule you don't like can be easily ignored, it should exist in the game for those who will enjoy it.
My suggestion is monster special attacks ought to be customizable. If I don´t want a Save or Die power only I change it with othe, with its right XPs value adjustment. 

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I  dislike the OP's idea because major enemies will allways be higher level than the PCs.
Therefore enemy casters will allways be able to SoD (SoS) PCs while PCs will not have the same ability in return.

If you base SoDs on the current HP of a "creature" at least the field is a little more even.
While it is given that PCs are still at disadvantage, because due to their lower hitpoints they will be below the threshold much quicker
the spell will effect anyone even-handedly when they have the same amount of HP.

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I would be suggesting a 4e style solution here. Have a series of saves which lead to the outcome. Of course, this would change the effectiveness of related spells or abilities, and that would have to be considered.

Save or Die:
Sickened => Weakened => Death

Save or Paralysis:
Slowed => Stunned => Paralysed

Save or Sleep:
Tired => Stunned => Sleep

Of course, something like this could easily be posed as a module/add on.

Edit: Now that I have actually read the rest of the thread, I would simply suggest that the first of each trilogy could be automatically added to the creature as a miss effect without a worsening condition, and a hit could put them straight onto the second condition. Or it does damage on hit as well. 

This way there is always an effect for the spell hit or miss, somewhat like Fireball but in different design space, and it is still possible to wipe out a monster like this - it just takes one extra round to do it. 
... Really that's where you go? that's your plan of attack? accuse me of not wanting to subject Players to SoD? even if that is a bad thing (since I've found that players are more willing to Roleplay when they're not constantly in danger of losing their character based on a single die roll) it doesn't invalidate my argument since the problematic aspects of allowing PCs to have save or sucks that function in the current style remains true regardless of whatever agendas I may or may not possess.

Seriously if you're gonna argue with me do a better job.


P-daddy, Like i said save or sucks, especially single target save or sucks, are either encounter breaking or a waste of a turn. THis addresses both problems, it allows figner of death to be a viable useful spell against many targets at any level of play.

This isn't some ploy yo nerf mages, this is a suggestion to re-construct problematic spells in such a fashion that the wizard isn't bouncing between wasting everyone's time and breakign the game. 




My sense is that spells should not have level or hp thresholds. Rather the number of saves should be in the hands of what type of game your table wants to run. This is where the so called modularity can and should work.

So if you want to play old school D&D then it is one save and your done, or if you want to play more like 4th ed then you get 2 or 3 saves with a save each round.

Personally I would want to play with the latter. I have played D&D for over 30 years and I dont find save or die especially fun - but I fully understand that some folk want to play that way. I just like the challenge of working as a team to avoid the effect of posion or a spell and 4th ed totally showed that this can work (despite its flaws).

The bottom line is that if DDN is going to what it says it is going to do, it has to be able to satisfy both styles of play.
 


Spells like finger of death and hold monster are problematic, they suck the challenge out of an encounter real quick if they work (which thanks to crappy saves and insane spell dcs they generally do), or they waste a turn.


I'd disagree.

If you don't call dice rolling challenging, why do you think there's any challenge to suck out to begin with? About 90% of the combat is gamble/dice rolling and 10% player skill (and that's probably an optimistic estimate)

The spells do, however, take the puff out of a DM's sails...is that really the prob? Big damn monster attack but suddenly the drama is undermined by a spell popping one of the monsters?

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Whatever is decided with save or die type of effects, as long as martial characters can gain sword of death, quivering palm, or something similar by gaining access to the proper maneuver or talent then I am good. And I am not stating martial characters can gain the equivalent of disintegrate through class ability, so there will be abilities and/or spells that are exclusive to casters.
Save or die and other big dramatic effects should be reserved to NPCs and monsters.

D&D should stop designing classes based on what are mentors, allies or adversaries of the heroes in fictions.
Gandalf is not a hero, he is a mentor to the heroes. Raistlin is not a hero, he is a trickster (he can be mentor, adversary or ally of the heroes).

Heroes are defined by the challenges, not how they can overpower them.
Save or suck/die can be delayed until epic levels, which is coherent with the powerful "spellcasters" despictions in fictions.

If you think my english is bad, just wait until you see my spanish and my italian. Defiling languages is an art.

Spells like finger of death and hold monster are problematic, they suck the challenge out of an encounter real quick if they work (which thanks to crappy saves and insane spell dcs they generally do), or they waste a turn.


I'd disagree.

If you don't call dice rolling challenging, why do you think there's any challenge to suck out to begin with? About 90% of the combat is gamble/dice rolling and 10% player skill (and that's probably an optimistic estimate)

The spells do, however, take the puff out of a DM's sails...is that really the prob? Big damn monster attack but suddenly the drama is undermined by a spell popping one of the monsters?



And making a game which is 90% about the roll is a problem which would be good to avoid!

I quite like 4th eds various non AC defenses and PC attacks which could target these various defences. I also like traditional D&D resistences and immunities which make you think twice about shooting arrows at Skeletons etc. These mean that the game is more that just rolling high but actually about working tactically as a team and making good choices.


So your "solution" is that once a day, a wizard will be allowed to do the average damage that a fighter of the same level does Every Single Round? How about no.

Aren't you the same person that continuously argues that balance is not really a nessicary part of design? That balance doesn't make the game fun?
Balance, as it applies to the game of D&D, is the ability for every player to have a good time. It doesn't require any degree of similar power level, damage-per-round, spotlight time equivalency, equal complexity, or any other mechanical enforcement. All of those, in fact, are much more likely to get in the way...

Why yes, yes you are.

So, which is it?

1. Fighter shouldn't overpower the wizard
2. balance doesn't matter?

You can only pick one.

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There is nothing wrong with save or suck and save or die spells. They should work and are a needed part of flavor for the game. The amount of spells a wizard gets in the playtest is laughable. If you cannot stomach a monster failing a save on 3 or 4 spells then you should design the adventure to make for some tough choices that test resources. If every encounter must end in a combat and all that is provided for in the game is combat than any spellcaster will take spells to end combat as quickly as possible to conserve resources. It really is that simple. Hit point thresholds are not needed except for a few truly powerfull spells such as the power words. If you want to make a save than boost your save defenses. I know it sounds like a crazy idea but it does work.
Spells should help play, making the game fun, not stop the game for anyone prematurely.
Spells should help play, making the game fun, not stop the game for anyone prematurely.



Spells do make the game fun. My fun may differ from yours but then again I believe that PC's should fear something. In RL you wouldn't jump off the Brooklyn Bridge. In D&D you would because you figure you have enough hit points to walk it off. Save or Die/Suck spells turn this equation on its head and stops PC's/NPC's from being too cocky. Caution is a good thing.
Spells should help play, making the game fun, not stop the game for anyone prematurely.



Spells do make the game fun. My fun may differ from yours but then again I believe that PC's should fear something. In RL you wouldn't jump off the Brooklyn Bridge. In D&D you would because you figure you have enough hit points to walk it off. Save or Die/Suck spells turn this equation on its head and stops PC's/NPC's from being too cocky. Caution is a good thing.



I hear what you want, and I would both recommend that style of play being an option provided for in the DMG, and point out that what players should fear shouldn't be "a random die roll" that is out of their control.  They should have to be cautious, certainly "a lot more" if you want to make the game like that as DM and they approve, but their caution should be rewarded too.  I believe the math of the game should also provide for surprises, as I just posted on the thread for that, but there should be limits unless it's something you are ruling should be instant-death or at least a good chance for instant death such as a fall, "based on common sense".
Spells like finger of death and hold monster are problematic, they suck the challenge out of an encounter real quick if they work (which thanks to crappy saves and insane spell dcs they generally do), or they waste a turn.

The HP threshhold thing doesn't really solve this swingyness.

So what if we set it up on a graduated system: A spell like finger of death auto-kills anyone below a certain level who faisl the save, and if they make the save they only wish they had died because of the HP damage and horrible racking agony, however if the target is above that level they take the damage and agony if they fail, anda  reduced amount fo damage and agony if they make the save.

Basically the idea is that powerful NPCs and monsters shouldn't drop dead or freeze in their tracks in the first round of a fight, or be rendered helpless by a single action on the part of a player, but these spells can still make their lives harder and the common run of beasts and bruisers are still quickly felled by such dread sorcery.

How's that sound?



Perfect.
Spells like finger of death and hold monster are problematic, they suck the challenge out of an encounter real quick if they work (which thanks to crappy saves and insane spell dcs they generally do), or they waste a turn.

The HP threshhold thing doesn't really solve this swingyness.

So what if we set it up on a graduated system: A spell like finger of death auto-kills anyone below a certain level who faisl the save, and if they make the save they only wish they had died because of the HP damage and horrible racking agony, however if the target is above that level they take the damage and agony if they fail, anda  reduced amount fo damage and agony if they make the save.

Basically the idea is that powerful NPCs and monsters shouldn't drop dead or freeze in their tracks in the first round of a fight, or be rendered helpless by a single action on the part of a player, but these spells can still make their lives harder and the common run of beasts and bruisers are still quickly felled by such dread sorcery.

How's that sound?



I agree.  I prefer level limits to hit point threshholds myself.  

I could live with a highly unlikely chance of success against at level enemies as another option too.  Power word kill should be a weapon used against lower level enemies you don't want to fool with.



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Yeah see this way even if a high level enemy makes the save, they still get an effect and/or a bit of damage, no more turns wasted where you're big dramatic spell utterly fails to do anything.

 
Sounds like a great optional rule for those games that are a bit more coddling.  

I love having important heart pounding die rolls at my table so I won't need such a rule.  I generally just give the player an NPC or a monster to play if he goes down early anyway.


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