Dying Actions and Deathbed Speeches

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One of the problems I've always had with DnD is the transition from HP to KOed. It's a staple of fantasy to have a character mortally wounded, and yet still fighting.

The die hard feat in 3.5 sort of accomplished this. Does anyone have an knowledge of the 4e rules -- are there ways to allow characters to be dying, making saves, and even possibly beyond the realm of magical healing, and yet still up for a few last words or actions?
One of the problems I've always had with DnD is the transition from HP to KOed. It's a staple of fantasy to have a character mortally wounded, and yet still fighting.

The die hard feat in 3.5 sort of accomplished this. Does anyone have an knowledge of the 4e rules -- are there ways to allow characters to be dying, making saves, and even possibly beyond the realm of magical healing, and yet still up for a few last words or actions?

One thing that may work for you are the (Epic) "once per day, when you die..." abilities. You're dying (or plain dead) but still kicking. :D
Well, I haven't seen anything official so all I can do is guess right along with you. But, there is the Endurance skill, which has a rather vague description and I'm not sure how it will actually be used in game. But, I could see some kind of rules that let a character make Endurance skill checks to shake off some conditions including falling unconscious while having negative hit points. This will probably require a feat or set of feats and may only apply to certain races (mainly dragonborn, humans, and/or dwarves).

But, I can see an epic level power that mimics the classic samurai power of fighting while dead, even while decapitated. Something that lets the character continue to make basic attacks while having negative hit points for the rest of the encounter. At the end of the encounter, the character dies. Of course, with Raise Dead and some other resurrection powers, the death is only a nuisance. But, that's what being epic is all about.
Sorry! I couldn't resist.

LANCELOT: Brave, brave Concorde, you shall not have died in vain!
CONCORDE: Uh, I'm-- I'm not quite dead, sir.
LANCELOT: Well, you shall not have been mortally wounded in vain!
CONCORDE: I-- I-- I think I c-- I could pull through, sir.
LANCELOT: Oh, I see.
CONCORDE: Actually, I think I'm all right to come with you, sir--
LANCELOT: No, no, sweet Concorde! Stay here! I will send help as soon as I have accomplished a daring and heroic rescue in my own particular...
[sigh]
CONCORDE: Idiom, sir?
LANCELOT: Idiom!
CONCORDE: No, I feel fine, actually, sir.
LANCELOT: Farewell, sweet Concorde!

But seriously, I see no problem with deathbed speeches.
I don't know about actions while dead or dying though, unless they were purely cinematic in nature ie. pulling out a note or some other small object with your dying breath.
Perhaps you could houserule that, while someone is between 0 and minus-bloodied, they're still conscious (but immobilized) until their first failed save. That way you'll have a few rounds to deliver last words, but you won't be able to depend on it, and you're not creating any new gap between when you get struck down and when you die.

I'm still working off of Design & Development: Death & Dying or “How We Learned to Stop Worrying and Love Negative Hit Points”, because I'm too poor to afford KotS.
The Expanded Psionics Group You don't have to be psychic to join, but it helps!
Perhaps you could houserule that, while someone is between 0 and minus-bloodied, they're still conscious (but immobilized) until their first failed save. That way you'll have a few rounds to deliver last words, but you won't be able to depend on it, and you're not creating any new gap between when you get struck down and when you die.

I'm still working off of Design & Development: Death & Dying or “How We Learned to Stop Worrying and Love Negative Hit Points”, because I'm too poor to afford KotS.

That seems quite fair in most circumstances. Another thing to think of is how long each save gives you to talk. Could be as simple as 6 second for each save (if a round is still 6 seconds).

And my first house rule is documented...

Before first fail: Effectively immobilized and conscious. Can move arms around fairly easy with light items.
After first fail: Start coughing and sputtering. Can still talk fairly easy, but completely immobile.
After second fail: Unconscious.
After third fail: Beep. Beep. Beeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee-

Another possibility is:
Before first fail: Can use 1 move action and 1 minor action, speed drops to 1.
After first fail: Can use 1 minor action, speed drops to 0.
After second fail: Unconscious, helpless, and prone.
After third fail: .....
My son was playing a warforged fighter, and opted to fight and let his friends get away. We play a pretty serious game and I gave him a handful of chances to withdrawl. When I finally had no option, other than having the monster just walk away, I made my last attack roll and scored a crit.

He knew what had just happend.

For dramatic effect, I roleplayed the last few moments of the battle, then there was a clicking sound as the center piece on his chest burst open to release his "last message" device (for the life of me I can't recall the name of this thing...). The strange metalic bird hovered above him for a moment as he fell to his knees. Then in a whisp, the last sound he heard was the buzzing of the device as it flew away. His body unmoving on the floor.

Granted he really didn't get to "do anything" in this last moment, and there was no way he was going to suddenly win the battle, but he still found his death quite cool.

"The turning of the tide always begins with one soldier's decision to head back into the fray"

In order to resolve this, you first have to get rid of the the "death is a temporary effect" rule.
The 1st/2nd/3rd strike degrading idea is interesting.

I wouldn't let people take any actions though.

Between zero and bloodied instead of unconscious you can be delirious and giving your dying speech, curse, yelling for mama etc.

However you are not coherent enough to take any action, use any class feature or even advise colleagues on anything. No "hey Redgar, remember about the secret door that's supposed to be in here".

This rule is only for "colour" and does not allow you to affect the outcome of events any more than if you were unconscious.

Rob
For dramatic effect, I roleplayed the last few moments of the battle, then there was a clicking sound as the center piece on his chest burst open to release his "last message" device (for the life of me I can't recall the name of this thing...).

It's called a final messenger.
It's called a final messenger.

Sorry :embarrass I was probably being funnier to myself than I was obviously to anyone else with the whole "last message" device comment. ;)

"The turning of the tide always begins with one soldier's decision to head back into the fray"