Dying?

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Was anything mentioned about Dying and how it would work in the Fourth Edition? I figured it would stay the same, but, as long as it doesn't change back to the 'dead at zero' system, I'm fine with it.
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I'm sure there will be ways to help downed men other than a 9th level cleric and a lot of gold.
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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.
In Saga, if you expend a Force Point when you are brought to (or below) 0 hp, you just go unconscious instead of dying.

In this case, most encounters where a character goes down, the character will survive if the party survives. This might also help take care of the "I have to re-roll a character and somehow have it immediately join the group" phenomena.

That makes a lot more sense than an arbitrary "dead at -10" approach.
In Saga, if you expend a Force Point when you are brought to (or below) 0 hp, you just go unconscious instead of dying.

Plus, the attack must both meet or exceed your damage threshold *and* reduce you to zero HP for death (which, as you say, can be turned to a KO with a Force Point); if it doesn't meet the threshold, you just go out cold.
Another day, another three or four entries to my Ignore List.
Sounds good. This would also allow for the fights to FEEL deadlier - as long as you don´t get a direct TPK, you´re usually fine (and nobody has to roll up a new wizard because his old one get sneezed at by a goblin...) - ignoring the implications of a beaten-up party for the moment.
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.
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.

Yeah, but it is okay if you are wasting resources that are hard to replace or extremely valuable. That way the game stays fun (can't reload a pen and paper game) without making being injured so annoying. It also means that players will take risks with their characters which can make th game a bit more fun.
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.

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'.
Another day, another three or four entries to my Ignore List.
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.

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 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.
Morganti weapons.

>.>

<.<

:D
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.

Make death harder, and resurrection can be a lot harder too. That handles that sort of problem easily. If done right, it will also make the PCs getting captured easier (they'll get taken prisoner instead of getting killed).
Death and dying are difficult to deal with, even in a game. It is true that the more often it happens, the less impact it has, and the less incentive the player has to really role-play the character. I've been playing this game a long time, and I've probably only had about six characters permanently die with no hope of recovery. That compares to about twelve characters that I have played up to level 14. So I'm about 1/3 or a 33% death ratio.

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.

Since the game is designed to be fun, I tend not to try to kill players when I DM. In fact I have only killed a few. I'm probably too easy, but I don't see any point in killing a character because of a few unlucky dice rolls. At low levels I have nerfed critical hits that would kill a first level character outright simply because it did not advance the game or the enjoyment of the game. I consider it my job as DM to keep the game fun and interesting, and rolling up a new character every third or fourth session is neither fun nor interesting.

I actually really like the negative hit points equal to constitution score to die rule. That's a very clear, powerful and easy to apply rule. And it makes sense. In fact I think I'm going to adopt it for my future 3.5 campaigns.

I hope dying in 4.0 is more or less comparable to 3.5. I did not think dying was one of the broken parts of the game.
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'.

To each his own, but in the good fun of a forum debate:

I grant you that books and movies rarely have a main character die. I absolutely loathe that. The greatest movie ever made (Saving Private Ryan) had main characters die, the main character died. 300 ended in a TPK. Horror movies routinely kill off folks. This is not to say that my games have high death counts or that I even enjoy it when one does die. However, I do like the ever present chance that one will. Saga rules pretty much mean everyone keeps a force point back in case they are whacked, and so, cannot die as long as one of the party members survives, unless the DM is feeling particularly cruel and intentionally has NPCs perform a coup de gras over and over until the knocked out party member runs out of force points.

In response to your numbered points:

1. Or the party can meet up with someone in the middle of the adventure, like Qui Gon coming across Jar Jar.

2. High death count? DnD has never had a "get out of death free" action like Saga. If games did not have a high death count in 1e/2e/3e, why would they suddenly have them in 4e? I have certainly invested in my character's personality up to this point, why would the continued lack of a "get out of death free" action change that?

3. I am not advocating higher death counts than the game already has, which is pretty much determined by DM style anyway. My experience with Saga is that death of an individual character does not happen, only with TPK. There are no stories of "death of a comrade in arms" as all of the comrades die or nobody does. There are no stories of how one of my old PCs saw his twin brother (another PC) felled by a giant, and so, embittered him for the remainder of his career. No stories of another of my PCs who gave his life trying to rescue a village's babies about to be sacrificed by kuo toa. All stories are about success or the very rare occasion where the whole party dies and the whole campaign ends. Maybe I am just different in this, but many of my fondest memories of characters is not in how they lived, but rather, in how they died.
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.

I've found this to be the exact opposite...the higher the level, the easier it is to die. With all the blasted save-or-die effects (which is debated elsewhere) and the sheer amounts of damage that can be dealt, the 10 HP buffer below 0 has less of an effect.

For instance, one of my favorite PCs, a Half-Orc Barbarian Cleric, died twice in one gaming session. I think he was around 12th level at the time. When you start taking 20+ points of damage per hit, that 0 to -10 mark is easy to miss. At higher levels, the damage becomes even more insane. I've routinely been hit for over 150hp of damage in one round from one opponent (granted, this character once did 119 points of damage with one attack, which is just how 3.5 is balanced). I started at 1st level and I'm around 17th level now and I think I've died 6 or 7 times getting there. Granted, it's partly do to character concept, but in 3.5 at higher levels, one bad roll (or good roll from the DM) can mean instant death to even a fully healed character.

Having said all that, having a get-out-of-death-free card in D&D seems wrong. I hate PC deaths and I think they need to be minimized to make the game fun. But to eliminate the chance of death provided the party survives (ie. Final Fantasy KO status) seems to take away the penalty of doing something stupid. However, the negative hitpoint value at which you finally die should be extended based on level. I'm not sure what a good number would be, but maybe extend by another 10 points every 5 levels or something. This would not effect when a PC becomes incapacitated in battle, but would make death less frequent. You still have to expend the healing resources to the PC out of his hit point debt, so it might not be as simple as throwing a CLW on him to get him up and moving again.

Dying sucks. It's usually not fun (although sometimes it is). But it's important. Playing D&D without death is like playing poker without chips...you're going to push your luck on every hand without worrying about the consequences.
For people that don't think dying is common, I'm kinda curious about that.

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. At high levels, save or die/lose make dying common as well. High damage can also make death pretty common, which isn't cool.

Also, if the DM wants to capture the party, that is very, very hard without killing them (or making a bunch of guys that only capture people and can't do anything else). It would be nice if capturing could happen a bit spontaneously. Making death a bit rarer helps this (make it easier to knock people out instead of killing them).

Anyhow, imho, it would be good for the game to make expand the area where a person is taken out of the combat, but not dead (e.g. severely wounded). I love the condition track of SW for that reason.

-Drachasor
Amen
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'.

We still use that rule. I think it is great to take into consideration a characters con when it gets to life or death situations.

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.

Dying is an important part of the game. Or more precicely the potential of dying is an import part. I mean that the PCs must trust their DM to not be cavalier about encounters and nuke the PCs outright, however it should be a challenge. If you walk an encounter was it fun? Maybe the first time but not the next 17. If you jut barely survived or felt that at any moment the battle could turn on a knife's edge was that fun most certainly, but it was also stress full. Perhaps that means some battles should be easy (in current term CR = APL) and some should be tough (CR = APL + 3).

If the aprty goes adventuring and never feels they could have dyed then where was the chalenge why isn't everyone an adventurer? And if your PC does die perhaps that makes for some fun times getting back from the dead. Perhaps your PCs is now ghostly for a time, or the party can animate your corpse and you pay as the zombie version of you until you get back to town. Or you just roll up anew or wait to be brough back to town. Maybe you are eleceted as the guy who orders and picks up the pizza.
Dying's what happens when your PC pushes things too far. If he takes on the wild-eyed ogre barbarian while on low hit points, he might win, but he's taking a definitely higher risk than if he'd fought the barbarian unhurt.

Why risk death? Reward, of course. This may be material (treasure, magic) or intangible (prestige, strategical necessity). The more tempting the reward, the more likely PCs are to risk death to get it. For example, many PCs would be willing to face an enemy with a vorpal sword, due to the prospect of obtaining, well, a vorpal sword. That's a fundamental difference between fighting a vorpal sword wielder and a wizard with finger of death: win, and you don't get the wizard's finger of death. (Unless you have access to his spellbook and there's someone in the party who can use it, but neither is anywhere near a certainty). Ditto for level-draining undead. If you could obtain the undead's level-draining ability, fighting them would make more sense.

That, I believe, is the key to challenging the PCs. Rather than bombard them with brutal death effects, tempt them with rewards. If they really want what's on offer, they'll think hard about how to defeat their obstacle with minimal risk to their necks, but they'll also risk their necks when required. The fun really starts when the PCs know it's prudent to back out or stay out of a fight, but go ahead because the reward is tempting, "now or never", and they know there's a chance to get it if they play well enough.

Any player whose PC was rendered hors de combat is going to feel like that PC was in some danger. Furthermore, they'll feel a certain loss of pride. One of the desirable outcomes from a fight is to have your PC participate to the end and be on their feet throughout. Going into negative hp hurts, not as much as dying, but it does hurt. Most players will dread it happening and strive to avoid it.

So the grey area between being active and dead acts to discourage PCs from ending up in it, without inflicting all death's consequences. DMs have more freedom to go hard and throw tough challenges at the PCs. They'll still be treating the grey area as 'death' and doing their utmost to avoid it, but ending up there doesn't spell disaster. Should the grey area be expanded? Maybe. It depends on how it's done.
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.

That is a good thing. It's absolutely great if nobody dies at all. So the players get to grow found of their characters, death does not become something trivial, and you even get to make resurrection something much harder (or even unique).

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.;)

In the end, it's all more of a matter of opinion. But I (along with my group) like to be able to stick to one character throughout the entire adventure, growing with them and creating memories^^.
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.;) \

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.
One thing that always bugged me about 3E is death and resurrection. By having resurrection so easy death never felt heart wrenching to me. Even if I play say Never Winter Nights, when someone dies in those games as a plot device I immediately say to myself, "Find a cleric. He'll be fine."

What does it matter if the king is killed. I'm sure he's already paid one of the clergy for a true resurrection years ago. He'll be back and ruling by midday.


But on the other hand I don't want players to be able to think their characters cannot die. If I used this rule from Saga in my D&D game, I know my players would never die.

Yeah needing to make a new character randomly sucks, but the fear of death is a good thing.


I'm not sure what I was trying to say here, but wanted to get it off my chest.
Yeah needing to make a new character randomly sucks, but the fear of death is a good thing.

But the thing is: a character's death is not required for the players to fear death.
I just think that random deaths in random battles take the fun away from playing the character, specially if there was nothing you could do to avoid it.

IMHO, the game reaches it's best atmosphere when the players trust the DM will not kill them from a random pointless event (such as an opponent's lucky blow), but, at the same time, know that the DM will kill them if they get reckless (get into a fight they can't win, say the wrong thing to the wrong person, etc).

As long as both of this criteria are met, the players won't go around thinking they can't die, and they won't have to worry about an unfortunate unpredictable death while fighting the random encounter of the day.
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.

Exactly. That's my biggest beef with 3rd Edition; unless the DM is very careful (or lucky, or throwing obvious nerfballs), defeat automatically equals death. The odds of randomly knocking out, 0-to-neg-9ing, sleeping and holding an entire party, especially to get all those stats simultaneously ... well, don't tell Han Solo the odds.

There should always be a chance of defeat, but I don't like the fact that defeat almost invariably means one or more fatalities.

As far as the dramatic death scene goes, spending that Force Point to not die both assumes you have one (not always the case), and it is optional. If the player feels that the impending death was dramatically appropriate, and that's how he wants his character to go out, he can simply not spend it.
Another day, another three or four entries to my Ignore List.
I thought the death rules in Saga were bad at first BUT

wouldn't that stop that "aw my fighter died, time to roll a new character at the same level" stuff. Cuz I hate that. I mean, your friend dies and suddenly some other dingleberry shows up. Plus its usually the friend that dies every week. And no killing your mid level fighter so you can jump into a wizard. So yeah, that might be cool. But are their bleeding out rules in saga? I always liked that. It made a sense of urgency.
The action point thing is a doable idea but I still think the solution is to substantially increase the bleeding out rules and make harder to save a person with the heal skill the further down they are. This makes higher ranks of the heal skill useful by making the longer some one is down require more skill and it means that when a friend goes down, you still need to work fast or he might die or become non-recoverable.

The only problem right now is -10 hit points is way too easy to get to. I say (since hit points are going to be increased) still have negative hit points and make them equal to the maximum hit points.

Make the healing check DC equal to 10+the number of hit points lost below 10 to stabilize, which means a person may still be alive but not able to be healed without magic.

Also magic should only recover hit points, not automatically bring a person to 1 hit point if negative. Also instead of magic automatically stabilizing a person the amount healed should allow for a new heal check at the new DC.
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.

That said, I wholeheartedly agree with modifying the silly, unbudging -1 to -9 to unconscious threshold. And while we are discussing it, the teeny-tiny window of 0hp staggered is just plain ridiculous.

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'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.

Ehh, the vast, vast majority of memorable deaths in roleplaying (not just D&D) I've seen have been voluntary deaths. A lot of the deaths in D&D have really upset people, and haven't been memorably in a good way -- though I have seem some voluntary deaths here, which are memorable.

Deaths are certainly a LOT less memorable when you can just go raise the person that died. What's so memorable about getting "sick" and then getting better? Not much.

The idea for Action Points mirroring Force Points for death is a good one, because it does give the player a choice (and he can even choose to die and want the large quest to bring him back to life). That makes it more memorable and meaningful more often in my experience. I also like making it easier to knock people out and/or capture PCs because of expanded bleeding to death (or severely wounded/whatever). That adds a lot more to the game than it takes way.

So make death harder and coming back harder, but have being wounded to the point of unconsciousness pick up some of the slack.
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.
I've been playing a long time, but only recently started playing again in the 3.5e rules. I've only had one character die in the 3.5e rules, and he was the last surviving member of a total party kill. If he had managed to get one more arrow into the big bad boss that wiped the party, then he would have had time to rescue some or all of the dying party members, although the odds of him saving all of them would have been pretty low.

Most of my character deaths have been in the old 2e rules. And I only count a "dead" character to be one that died and was not resurrected, raised or wished back to life. Characters who were temporarily dead and then brought back to life are not "dead" characters. In fact I think every 2e character I ever had that managed to get to level 10 had "died" at least once. But back then dying cost you one point of constitution, and THAT was painful enough.

So roughly 1/3 of my characters have died and not been brought back to life. In 3.5e so far it is 1/2 since I have only played two 3.5e characters so far, and one died permanently.

I think that's a pretty significant death rate considering how much time and effort I put into them before they passed on.

Dying should be painful, but dying and being resurrected, raised or otherwise brought back to life is not what I mean by "dying". I was referring to the "OK, time to wad up and throw away that character sheet" sort of dying. "Dying" and being resurrected, even with the loss of a level (or in the old rules, the loss of a constitution point) is painful, but really is just part of the character history. That's not the sort of dying I'm talking about.

Because it is so easy to restore a temporarily "dead" character back to life, it really is pretty much part of the game for a character to find it difficult to permanently die unless there is a total party wipeout. That's how the game dynamics work out. If even one character survives and has the cash, or can cast the spells themselves, restoring the rest of the party is pretty much guaranteed. Unless that character is evil, and I would hate to see the group dynamic of a bunch of players when one character survived and refused to raise the dead ones. That would not be a fun group to play with anymore, I don't think.
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.

If dying costs a level when you are brought back to life, it would seem you can't die that often and remain epic.
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.

Heh, that's very true. I was playing a 2.0 game with some friends(4 of us), starting at level 1, and we got through a large pack of goblins or something(it's been a while, so I don't remember) because they fled and hid in a cupboard or something instead of attacking us after we felled one of them(though they did drop our thief to 1 hp before we killed that one). If they hadn't fled, our theif would have easily died.

Earlier in the campaign I nearly died due to a poison lever though. I beat the DC by 1 or 2(go, +2 Paladin bonus saves!).
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