In Saga, if you expend a Force Point when you are brought to (or below) 0 hp, you just go unconscious instead of dying.
The death rules in Saga are one of the few things that I do not like about the system. Nobody dies unless the whole party dies feels pretty cheesy.
My suggestion, make unconsciousness/bleeding out vs. true death have a bit longer gap than the -10 hp in 3.x. Make actual dying much harder, but make coming from dying near impossible.
I too think that ressurection is too easy. How do a DM explain that some important NPCs dies permanently, when the death for the players is merely a small disadvantage.
Think of it this way ... how many stars of the show (aka PCs)actually died, in combat, during the six Star Wars movies? I can think of one: Qui-Gon Jinn. (Maul was a bad guy and thus not a PC.)
A high PC death count is BAD. Death should be infrequent in gaming.
1. If a PC dies, the rest of the group has to either drop the adventure entirely and go back to civilization to recruit a new member (which frequently takes a long time, to say nothing of the player making the character itself), or continue on the adventure with their numbers cut.
2. A high death count works against character development. If a character cannot be expected to stay in play, there's no reason to give it an interesting personality or put any effort into it, because you're going to die in two sessions and have to make it all over again.
3. The more frequent death is, the less of an impact it has. There's no drama, no interest ... you might not have even gotten to know the guy, IC, before his farm was bought. It goes from 'death of a comrade in arms who struggled with me against all odds' to 'we lost another redshirt'.
BUT, the higher my characters have gotten, the less likely they have been to die. And the more painful it has been to lose one. I think the highest level character I had die was level 8. And that was really painful.
A few years back, some people in the forums made up a rule (which became somewhat popular) in which the number of negative HPs was equal to the character's CON score. So for example, an elf with Con 8 had up to -8 HPs before dying, but, say, a dwarf with CON 20 had up to -20 HPs.
This allows characters to have potentially more than -10 HPs. This will make actual dying much less frequent for the majority of characters, but the rules should also make coming from dying/resurrection difficult to accomplish.
However the problems with that are, although the majority of characters will have 10 or more CON, those few that have less will be quite fragile (but then, that's what you get for putting a low score into CON, so don't do that if this character being fragile bothers you). The other supposed problem is that this rule makes above average CON that much more desirable than ever before.
I know that the negatives slightly outweighs the positives with this rule, but I just thought I'd mention it in case it is actually more balanced than I thought.
I understand that the suspense, and the knowledge that you are under a life-or-death situation. But you can still have that, you only need to play with players that "get in character" (and by that I don't mean good actors, I just mean players who don't metagame death, and fear for their (beloved) characters lives even though none of the PCs have died yet). And it really helps if you take the life of an NPC they've grown found of.;) \
Yeah needing to make a new character randomly sucks, but the fear of death is a good thing.
I'd add that you can still have the tension of victory or defeat even if death is much less common. Just because you don't die doesn't mean failing your mission and getting captured (or humiliated) by the enemy isn't somehow not awful.
I'm surprised, but not shocked, that a lot of people don't like dying in DnD. I'm sure if you think of it though, a lot of your memorable moments while playing come when yours or someone else's character died. Character death kinda defines one's play moments, if you ask me.
I think it would be better if once a player was reduced to below 0 hp, he/she gets one round of staggered and maybe their CON modifier in rounds of unconsciousness before dying. Regardless of actual negative hitpoints. Or something like that.
I really like that idea as well. It provides at least SOME opportunity to make a "last dying standard-action", and gives the cleric / healer time to get over to you.
I prefer this approach (slowing the dying process) to the frequent true rez that our epic party is CONTINUALLY using. This makes death seem cheap and meaningless at high and epic levels.
Oh, and I wanted to thank obiwanchunn for letting my lower half not fall into the sphere of annihilation when I failed my jump check, so that there would be something to true-rez.
What level do you start playing at? Because at low levels, dying is pretty common if the DM isn't very careful (which means making monsters act oddly) or fudging rolls now and then.