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  1. - Top - End - #31
    Ettin in the Playground
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    Default Re: Making players accept death as part of the game.

    You could always make it so people only die on a coup de grace, including bad guys. Otherwise they simply pass out/slip into a coma from which they have to be magically healed. This may be a strange way of playing, but heck I have played around with having people explode in a shower of experience coins before.

  2. - Top - End - #32
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    Default Re: Making players accept death as part of the game.

    Depending on the system, there's still things like getting turned to stone, dropped in lava, being aboard an exploding space ship, swallowing a sphere of annihilation, etc.
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    Default Re: Making players accept death as part of the game.

    (in regards to gamer girl)

    See I disagree with this a game does not have to be lethal to be fun or even challenging. Mutants and mastermind is a popular and extremely nonlethal system. Losing and dying arenít the same thing.
    Some people enjoy different play styles then you thatís not wrong of them.
    In regards to having to fight the lich who drowned the valley or just go on some random adventure you seem to be confusing an interesting adventure with a lethal one these are not the same thing.

  4. - Top - End - #34
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    Default Re: Making players accept death as part of the game.

    Alright, this is long. Like, probably too long. You've been warned.

    When I first started playing Fallout: New Vegas (a post-apocalyptic survival RPG), the game just wasn't... right for me. I'm all for old-school massive fights where all the bad guys have ten thousand hit points and can get shot in the face twenty times and still be standing, but that is definitely not what I wanted out of a survival RPG.

    No, what I wanted was severe, pitiless realism. So I downloaded mods until I had it.

    The game shipped with a hardcore mode, requiring you to keep track of food, sleep, and water; I downloaded a mod that required me to keep track of protein, carbs, nutrients, water, BAC, sleep, diurnal cycle... all sorts of crazy stuff. Now instead of just making sure I had a pack full of snack cakes, I needed to make sure I had a balanced diet - which is hard when you're scavenging in a post-apocalyptic desert.

    The game's default difficulty system gave enemies more health and had them do more damage the higher you set the difficulty. I downloaded mods that reduced everyone's health and increased everyone's damage, so that if you got shot, you'd die. The most the average person - enemy or PC - could take was maybe four, five shots, and that was only if they got really lucky, and were shot with a tiny caliber. But even with a small gun, a headshot was more or less an instant kill.

    I got a few other mods - nighttime was so dark you needed a flashlight, clear sunny days were so bright it could be hard to see if the sun was in front of you, you dehydrated faster based on temperature and humidity, etc., etc.. But the end result was a brutal, gritty, desert survival sim that was loads of fun.

    So I beat the game, and had a blast with it. Fun times. But like many good RPGs, New Vegas had a lot of different choices you could make that would affect how the ending played out, and eventually I decided I wanted to play through it again.

    I tried, but it just... I'd beaten it before, I was good at it, I knew what I was doing, right? And because of how the difficulty was set up - how I wanted it to be - I couldn't just crank up the difficulty to make things harder. I tried playing a melee-focused character - obviously at a disadvantage in a game where one bullet can kill - but it still wasn't as much fun as my first playthrough.

    Then a friend linked me to an article that gave me some advice on how to make it really hardcore.

    Oh man. I thought I'd played hardcore before. I hadn't.

    This time, I turned off my HUD completely. No telling how much health I had in the middle of combat, no telling if that guy down the road is friendly or waiting to kill me, no telling how much ammo I have left (I just have to count my shots). I also didn't let myself use VATS (the game's auto-targeting system); now I had to actually have all the accuracy, and not just put points in the skill.

    A huge factor: with no HUD, there was no radar. People would start shooting t me, and I'd have no idea where it was coming from. I just had to duck for cover, and hope my cover blocked the bullets.

    But the biggest change I made: Permadeath (and no, you know, quicksaves and whatnot). Holy crap, that changed everything.

    Before, when I'd get in a fight, I'd be tense; with how lethal combat was, I had to be on my game or else. Now? If I even thought a fight was coming, I got stressed. Like, if I was on a mission that required me to clear a building? I'd crawl through at a snail's pace, double-checking every corner, and placing mines behind me as I went in case anyone snuck up on me.

    And if someone did sneak up on me? I'd just about crap my pants. Nothing was worse than wandering through apparently empty plains, and suddenly hearing a gunshot. Was it aimed at me? Where did it come from? Who's shooting? How many of them are there? I'd spin around in quick circles, crouch down, and pray that I was able to see them before they shot again. Sometimes, I would. Other times, the ambush would work, and I'd die.

    I died a lot. And each time, I started the whole friggin' game over again. It was miserable... and awesome.

    Now, I actually had to make real choices. Like, if some NPC asked me to save their town from bandits? Before, I'd be all over that; XP and loot ahoy! Now, I had to think. Could I take them? How many of them were there? Would I find more ammo than it took to kill them all? What was the area like - was there anywhere I could hide, any good cover? What sort of weapons should I take - would the fights be indoors, or over long spaces?

    I had to calculate all that in my head, and then decide if the risk was worth it to my character. Was my character the type of guy who'd save the town?

    Oh, and powerful enemies? Like, guys in full suits of power armor, with energy weapons? Before, they were great, sort of annoying challenges. They took work to kill, but they were super worth it for the loot. Now, they were the apparitions of terror that the fluff of the game implied; if I saw a guy in power armor, I didn't wait to see if he was an enemy, I just ran. I'd abandon missions to avoid those guys.

    Plus, there were all sorts of tactics that I suddenly appreciated. I'd never used mines before, because it was always just faster to shoot people. As mentioned above, though, now, I loved them. They let me kill people without putting myself at risk. I'd lay them behind me to cover my back, lay them in front of me before getting in a shootout in case the other guy charged... I couldn't get enough of them, and they saved my hide many, many times.

    There were definite frustrations. Ambushes being the biggest one. My number one cause of death was suddenly getting shot by some guy who rounded a bend I hadn't laid a mine at. There's still a death or two that I have no idea what caused it; I just suddenly dropped dead from a headshot.

    But because of that risk, the high points were so much higher. I remember one time, when I'd died too quickly too frequently, and just got fed up. I snapped, grabbed a shotgun, and just started clearing a group of bandits holed up in an abandoned building. And I felt awesome. I didn't sneak, didn't creep, just walked around casually, blowing everybody that I saw away. Before, I might've thought that made a cool image, but now, because I knew that I was putting myself at risk and rocking the place anyway? I felt so awesome.

    And when I finally managed to get my own suit of power armor? I was the unstoppable behemoth I was supposed to be. Legions fell before me, and it was all the more awesome because I'd once had to run in terror from what I had now become.

    TL;DR: You can start here

    That's what the real risk of death does for a game. It's true, sometimes things suck, like just really, really suck. Nothing's worse than putting hours, days, sometimes years of work into a character, and then losing him to a short series of bad luck. But it's that very risk that forces you to act in character. It's easy for a hero to be a hero if he knows the DM is going to fudge things to make sure he gets out alive. It's a lot harder for the hero to face the lich if he knows there's very little chance he'll make it out alive, or even manage to take the lich down with him.

    And those rare moments, when everything is aligned against you, but you manage to kill the lich, save the city, and get away safe? Those moments make it worth it.
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    Default Re: Making players accept death as part of the game.

    Quote Originally Posted by awa View Post
    (in regards to gamer girl)

    See I disagree with this a game does not have to be lethal to be fun or even challenging. Mutants and mastermind is a popular and extremely nonlethal system. Losing and dying arenít the same thing.
    Some people enjoy different play styles then you thatís not wrong of them.
    In regards to having to fight the lich who drowned the valley or just go on some random adventure you seem to be confusing an interesting adventure with a lethal one these are not the same thing.
    {scrubbed}
    Last edited by Roland St. Jude; 2012-11-14 at 10:36 PM.

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  6. - Top - End - #36
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    Default Re: Making players accept death as part of the game.

    @datedinator: Wow. That's well and truly hardcore.

    I think that'd be a bit more realism than I'd care for in a video game. Just..... wow.
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  7. - Top - End - #37
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    Default Re: Making players accept death as part of the game.

    personaly i think id find that really tedius/ frusterating

  8. - Top - End - #38
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    Default Re: Making players accept death as part of the game.

    And this is why its really important to know your players' tastes. Throw a game like DaTedinator built at a group of players and some will have a blast while others will walk out in disgust. Even moreso, players can be more ready to accept that kind of difficulty if the game is designed to be kind of a throwaway thing, while for a more involved campaign with more investment there will be fewer and fewer people you'll find willing to go for quite such a rough thing.

    Occasionally I'll run something which I advertise as 'this is basically an old-school dungeon crawl' in 2ed or 1ed D&D. Because people know the reputation of those systems as being super-lethal (which is mostly at low levels mind you), so they have the right expectations coming in. If the dungeon crawl ends in a TPK thats how it goes. But those are usually just quick 1-3 session things to sort of get a feel of that sort of game before going back to something else for me and my group. And some of my players just bow out entirely when I'm running something like that, but since I'm clear about what its going to be like then it generally works out.

  9. - Top - End - #39
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    Default Re: Making players accept death as part of the game.

    This sounds like a player after my own heart. IMO, you shouldn't require him to accept lethal consequences if he's uncomfortable with them. If he's okay with the mild ridiculousness of his game being about as lethal as a Saturday morning cartoon, so be it. If the other players aren't cool with that, let some adventures focus on him and be nonlethal while others largely de-emphasize him, and have occasional fatalities but with attackers largely avoiding him and any NPCs he's strongly attached to.

    Also don't neglect to play up how getting captured can be scarier than dying. Death can be "ho hum, another True Resurrection", while having something like a mind flayer hold you prisoner, and other prisoners describing the heinous tortures they've endured (all with no real sense of immediacy, so it's not so much a threat as a creeping dread - nothing might happen for years, but the shadow will loom over you that whole time because you can't control your fate, and that's scary in itself), can do a lot to make the player recognize how death can be preferable to some of the alternatives. On the flipside, show a heroic paladin or something who makes it clear that he's willing to martyr himself for a sufficiently important cause, and eventually does so, but only once the player has shown clearly that he understands.

  10. - Top - End - #40
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    Default Re: Making players accept death as part of the game.

    Quote Originally Posted by awa View Post

    See I disagree with this a game does not have to be lethal to be fun or even challenging.
    I just don't get that. How is it fun to have an immortal character? How is it not like playing a video game on 'immortal mode'?

    Quote Originally Posted by awa View Post

    Mutants and mastermind is a popular and extremely nonlethal system.
    So how exactly does the game work? You make a character right? And a GM makes an adventure? And the game has some sort of conflict and challenge, right? You have to do 'something', right? And the something needs to be pass or fail, right? So how does a game where you can't fail work? Does combat(does the game even have combat?) just 'knock a character down'?

  11. - Top - End - #41
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    Default Re: Making players accept death as part of the game.

    Quote Originally Posted by Tengu_temp View Post
    There is nothing heroic or cunning about being a paranoid little coward who overprepares for every situation.
    ďVictorious warriors win first and then go to war, while defeated warriors go to war first and then seek to win.Ē


    This isn't dating, it's war; losing means innocent people die (or Baron Von Evil takes over the kingdom, or everyone you love gets eaten by Cthulhu, or whatever), and often enough you only get one chance. There is nothing heroic or cunning about getting your squad killed by your incompetence, either. Taking the best road to victory is practically the definition of cunning.

    Win the battle, then get some Bards and Historians to sing about how awesome you are, and exaggerate the story so you look heroic. If you don't prepare, you deserve to lose. Also, it's not paranoia if someone half the universe really is out to get you.
    Last edited by Slipperychicken; 2012-11-14 at 11:47 PM.
    Quote Originally Posted by Emperor Tippy View Post
    By level 20 though, you aren't capturing a wizard. A character lives to level 20 by being the most ruthless, lucky, capable, and paranoid bastard around. A wizard is throwing around a 30+ Int score and has, entirely in character, planned contingencies for his contingencies. He may well be running around with flat out total immunity to harm, he does not walk outside without an entire bevy of defensive magics around him and enough magic items to buy himself a nation.

  12. - Top - End - #42
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    Default Re: Making players accept death as part of the game.

    Quote Originally Posted by Darth Xena View Post
    I just don't get that. How is it fun to have an immortal character? How is it not like playing a video game on 'immortal mode'?
    Some people like playing in god mode.
    For some games, I'd much rather have it easier than harder. For example, I always play Neverwinter Nights on the harder difficulty setting possible, because that's closer to D&D. That's what I want from the game - D&D feel and cool graphics. I could do the same with Dragon Age, because what I want from the game is it being gritty and deadly.
    If I'm playing Bayonetta or Devil May Cry, you can bet my first run is going to be on a low difficulty level. I want to see all options, all the cool moves Dante and Bayonetta can do, and most of them suck in higher difficulties. I want to explore the weapons, I want to see the cutscenes, I want to see everything and if it's hard many of the stuff I could do... well, it can't be done. Then I would turn to a harder difficulty setting and enjoy other aspects of the game.

    Quote Originally Posted by Darth Xena View Post
    So how exactly does the game work? You make a character right? And a GM makes an adventure? And the game has some sort of conflict and challenge, right? You have to do 'something', right? And the something needs to be pass or fail, right? So how does a game where you can't fail work? Does combat(does the game even have combat?) just 'knock a character down'?
    Failing is very, very different from dying. You fail a lot more in M&M than you do in D&D. In fact, failing is what gives you fuel to eventually succeed where it matters. That's just how superhero stories go - villain shows up, heroes can't defeat him because of X, heroes try to figure out a way to defeat the villain, heroes fight the villain, heroes win.
    More narrative focused games, such as Anima Prime, have very different rules for death. You don't die because you took X damage. You fall to the ground, defeated and injured, and it could take a while for you to be on top shape, but you only die when you want it. Any player can choose to sacrifice his character to achieve something - for example, a final rush where you kill the bad guy.
    Bliss Stage has similar mechanics, where a character death is determined by the system but whenever it does happen, you choose how it happens and it's always meaningful to the story.
    It's just different playstyles. Character death happening all the time is more common in RPGs that more gamist, while it not happening is more common in RPGs that are more narrativist. Each side works and I'm a fan of both when used right.

    Quote Originally Posted by Slipperychicken View Post
    This isn't dating, it's war; losing means innocent people die (or Baron Von Evil takes over the kingdom, or everyone you love gets eaten by Cthulhu, or whatever). There is nothing heroic or cunning about getting your squad killed by your incompetence, either. Taking the best road to victory is practically the definition of cunning.
    And realistic is very different from heroic. If you want to feel like a hero, you should charge through the battlefield tossing does to each side, you should win despite the odds being against you and all. That's what a heroic game means, a game where you get to be a hero all the time, not one where you could be a hero if X happens.

    Quote Originally Posted by Slipperychicken View Post
    Win the battle, then get some Bards and Historians to sing about how awesome you are, and exaggerate the story so you look heroic. If you don't prepare, you deserve to lose. Also, it's not paranoia if someone half the universe really is out to get you.
    See, this is is what I'm talking about. That might be realistic and make sense, but that's not what a heroic game should aim for. It's not about looking heroic, it's about actually being a hero.
    I'm not saying realistic gritty games are bad - I love those, at times! But you seem to be dismissing actual heroic games, while they are pretty much a thing and they are very fun, as well.
    For every Trail of Chtulhu you have one Anima Prime, for every Godlike you have one Mutants & Masterminds, for every GURPS you get one 3D&T. They are not bad. Just different.
    Last edited by ThiagoMartell; 2012-11-14 at 11:48 PM.

  13. - Top - End - #43
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    Default Re: Making players accept death as part of the game.

    ThiagoMartell already made the points I wanted to make, so I will say something else:

    Many people compare playing very lethal tabletop games to playing very hard video games. However, there is one crucial difference: if you die in a video game, in most cases you can just load the game from a previous save and try again. Not so much in a tabletop game: if you die here, it's the end, time to make a new character. This creates a very different situation - I wouldn't mind playing with a DM who lets me "load" the game if my character dies, but a very lethal game where a single mistake or just a bad roll means your character is gone is simply not my cup of tea.

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  14. - Top - End - #44
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    Default Re: Making players accept death as part of the game.

    Quote Originally Posted by Darth Xena View Post
    I just don't get that. How is it fun to have an immortal character? How is it not like playing a video game on 'immortal mode'?
    That's an oversimplification. There is really a very broad spectrum between "you die if you don't do everything just so, or if you happen to be unlucky, or ..." and "you never die or have any chance to fail". For example, switching out of RPGs for a moment, you can have a game where you have a number of lives; running out of all of them means you lose, but any loss can be a problem and lessen your score. Back to RPGs, you can have games where death is frequent and final (generally, characters are a thin mask for their players, easily discarded), where death is occasional or reversible, where death is very rare, or where death is essentially unknown. As has been stated, that doesn't mean it's easy mode, it just means the penalties for messing up are different, usually more fluff-oriented, but not always. (NPCs can usually still die, drastically change their attitudes, suffer changes in circumstance, and so on; kingdoms can rise or fall, artifacts be destroyed or preserved or used, etc.)

    Basically, death is not the only way to make a character powerless, and it's not the only available consequence for player error either.

    Edit:
    Quote Originally Posted by Tengu_temp View Post
    Many people compare playing very lethal tabletop games to playing very hard video games. However, there is one crucial difference: if you die in a video game, in most cases you can just load the game from a previous save and try again. Not so much in a tabletop game: if you die here, it's the end, time to make a new character. This creates a very different situation - I wouldn't mind playing with a DM who lets me "load" the game if my character dies, but a very lethal game where a single mistake or just a bad roll means your character is gone is simply not my cup of tea.
    There's one major group of exceptions that I can think of: one of the defining features of roguelikes is that savegames cannot be used to recover from death (they're generally overwritten immediately). I've tried several different roguelikes, but permadeath and the generally nigh-arbitrary deaths (or, at least, deaths with no very obvious way to avoid them) have always driven me away. This is probably because it's impossible to actually succeed in a roguelike in any real sense until you've failed dozens, hundreds, or even thousands of times, and each time you lose all your progress.

    I suppose that's really another equally important thing to consider; not only how a game handles failure, but how it handles (partial) success. Sure, if you pride yourself on stoicism or perseverance or stubbornness, it may be enough to have a single reward after thousands of hours of playtime, but for most people that's just not very fun (and they'll never reach that).
    Last edited by TuggyNE; 2012-11-15 at 12:14 AM.
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    Default Re: Making players accept death as part of the game.

    @Darth Xena: There's a difference between dying and failure. Dying often is a means to failure, but not every failure is a result of death. In a system like D&D the connection between the two is even more tenuous than normal, since death can be -very- inpermanent in that system.

    To fail is to not succeed. If you didn't get there in time to stop the cult's ritual from summoning its dark god you've failed. If you let the princess get eaten by the dragon you've failed. You didn't die in either of those cases, but you've failed nonetheless. You -may- have the opportunity to set aright your failure, but you did fail.

    If, on the other hand, you got turned into hamburger during a battle and the party cleric hits what's left with a res spell and you go on to stop the cult and slay the dragon death was just an inconvenience, not a failure at all. If you carve the princess' remains from the belly of the slain wyrm and bring that back to life, you've only partially failed. (Good luck convincing the king you still deserve a full reward after his daughter went through the trauma of being a meal.)

    Failure comes in degrees and if death is inpermanent it's maybe just a degree of failure and maybe it's just an inconvenience.

    If death is permanent, then it's definitely a failure, but it's not the only way to fail.

    All that said, I still think that removing the chance for death, no matter how much or how little permanence it has, reduces the dramatic value of combat.

    If you weren't willing to put your life on the line, why the devil did you get into a combat situation at all? Why didn't you surrender? Why didn't you flee? If combat's a thing, and it's not a modern or post-modern setting, then making combat completely non-lethal just doesn't make sense. Often it doesn't even make sense in those settings.
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    Quote Originally Posted by ThiagoMartell View Post
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    Default Re: Making players accept death as part of the game.

    Kill his character. Nothing gets you over character death faster than having your character die.
    Last edited by BootStrapTommy; 2012-11-15 at 04:41 AM.
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    Default Re: Making players accept death as part of the game.

    Quote Originally Posted by Darth Xena View Post
    I just don't get that. How is it fun to have an immortal character? How is it not like playing a video game on 'immortal mode'?
    There are systems (such as, say, Dogs in the Vineyard) where the consequences of a conflict can be entertaining and far-reaching even if no-one died - or hell, even if no one even pulled a knife and stuck with jawing. Narrative-focused games tend to only kill people when it's dramatically appropriate - if the player decides that character's story is over - rather than because they accidentally touched a Sphere of Annihilation.

    It's really just a difference of goals - the difference between, let's say, a dungeon crawler, where characters are expected to die (and ignominiously at that) or get phat loot, and a storytelling system, where characters are placed into situations to specifically allow for roleplaying decisions that are interesting to everyone involved.

    The problem is when a player who is expecting the latter has a DM/GM who is running the former. People will get because of that difference of expectations.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Kelb_Panthera View Post
    (Good luck convincing the king you still deserve a full reward after his daughter went through the trauma of being a meal.)
    "We will return her to you upon full payment of the bounty as agreed. If we do not receive full compensation within one hour, we cannot be held responsible for her health or well-being. It would be a shame to have come all this way, just to see her fall into the wrong hands. On an unrelated note, I hear royalty fetch quite a sum in the lower planes."
    Last edited by Slipperychicken; 2012-11-15 at 08:45 PM.
    Quote Originally Posted by Emperor Tippy View Post
    By level 20 though, you aren't capturing a wizard. A character lives to level 20 by being the most ruthless, lucky, capable, and paranoid bastard around. A wizard is throwing around a 30+ Int score and has, entirely in character, planned contingencies for his contingencies. He may well be running around with flat out total immunity to harm, he does not walk outside without an entire bevy of defensive magics around him and enough magic items to buy himself a nation.

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    Default Re: Making players accept death as part of the game.

    "Live by the sword..."

    If he is so worried about death tell him not to get into situations where is his character won't die.

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    Default Re: Making players accept death as part of the game.

    I suppose I lean to the hardcore side of this issue.

    I've found that people generally tend to get more worked up over character death when the character creation process is long and difficult. 3E D&D characters, in particular, are labor intensive, and it's really annoying to put a bunch of time into a character, only to have that guy eat it in the first adventure.

    On the other hand, if character creation is easy (as is the case in basic D&D), it's much faster to get back in the game if you die. 10-15 minutes and you're ready to go.

    Because basic D&D and AD&D are so lethal at low levels, there is a tendency to not get attached to them until they've gotten a few levels under their belt. Old-School players had to get smart FAST to keep their players alive. And this, I think, leads to really creative play and a sense of danger and excitement.

    When you do finally get a few levels under your belt, you can breath a sigh of relief that you've passed the most dangerous levels.

    In most cases, those characters have little to no backstory, because it's a hassle to invest emotionally in a fragile character. Thus, the old-school mindset that a character doesn't need a backstory because the real story is is his survival against the dangers he's faced thus far.

    In comparison, labor intensive character creation systems create a situation where neither the DM or players want to lose a character because it's such a pain in the ass to make up new ones. Players also tend to give those characters a convoluted backstory to compliment the "unique snowflake" that they've created.

    So the games tend to be easier, and give players more leeway with death and danger. Death, when it does come, tends to be a real shock because you've gotten out of the habit of expecting it.

    Personally, I lean toward the simpler char-gen systems and more dangerous dungeons. However, I try not to make my arbitrarily lethal. I dislike save-or-die, energy drains, and super-lethal monsters like yellow mold.

    I try to create adventures where the characters can think their way out of danger. Optimally, they die because they did something stupid, not because of a random roll. Still combat can be dangerous, so I let the characters go down to -10 HP before they die.

    But death, when it happens, is final. There are no Raise Dead spells or Resurrections to be had. If they're VERY lucky they might be able to find a way to cheat death, but it's not a matter of wandering down to the local church with a bagful of gold.

    I think this is an optimal mix... not so dangerous to be frustrating, but still dangerous enough to encourage caution on the part of players, and give them a real sense of accomplishment when they do succeed at cheating death for one more day.

  21. - Top - End - #51
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    Default Re: Making players accept death as part of the game.

    Quote Originally Posted by Slipperychicken View Post
    "We will return her to you upon full payment of the bounty as agreed. If we do not receive full compensation within one hour, we cannot be held responsible for her health or well-being. It would be a shame to have come all this way, just to see her fall into the wrong hands. On an unrelated note, I hear royalty fetch quite a sum in the lower planes."
    That's an option if the consequences are acceptable.

    Personally, I think that while the xp from slaughtering the royal guard on the way out might be nice, being declared an outlaw to the kingdom and having as steep a bounty placed on my head as the crown can afford might be more than a little inconvenient. Seperating a few adventurers from one another's company so you can pick them off one at a time is dramatically easier than taking down a dragon in his lair, to boot.
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    Default Re: Making players accept death as part of the game.

    This is completely a problem of misaligned expectations.

    Just look at the expressions in this thread: Why is he adventuring if he's afraid of dying, etc., etc., points to the same expectations problem.

    He expects the game to play like an adventure story; the characters believe themselves to be in mortal peril, but the audience knows they rarely are. He wants to do cool stuff and help the party rescue the princess, and that is meaningful and cool to him. Mere survival is boring, one-dimensional, and ultimately not worth the time he has put in to achieve.

    You expect the game to play like a combat game; the characters believe themselves to be in mortal peril because they are. This isn't pro wrestling, this is fighting for your life, and the dice can't always love you. You have to out-smart the opposite them, not out-fight the monsters. Death is always on the table because that gives every victory its sweetness.

    Those are both meaningful playstyles and perfectly defensible positions. They just don't play nice together.

    To relate this to a dangerously political issue, it's like welfare reform; some people would say losing a job is miserable enough, you don't need to remove the safety net, and doing so would be a gross violation of ethics. Others say people strive harder to remain employed or gain employment if there's a less cushy safety net, and that it's anemic to a healthy economy to let people languish unemployed like that (especially on someone else's dime).

    These both have a complete internal logic based on different metrics. Those metrics don't line up next to each other, but that doesn't make either less valid than the other.
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  23. - Top - End - #53
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    Default Re: Making players accept death as part of the game.

    Explain to him that with sufficient diamonds and levels on a pliable cleric that death is but a speedbump to all bar outsiders.

  24. - Top - End - #54
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    Default Re: Making players accept death as part of the game.

    Quote Originally Posted by DaTedinator View Post
    That's what the real risk of death does for a game. It's true, sometimes things suck, like just really, really suck. Nothing's worse than putting hours, days, sometimes years of work into a character, and then losing him to a short series of bad luck. But it's that very risk that forces you to act in character. It's easy for a hero to be a hero if he knows the DM is going to fudge things to make sure he gets out alive. It's a lot harder for the hero to face the lich if he knows there's very little chance he'll make it out alive, or even manage to take the lich down with him.

    And those rare moments, when everything is aligned against you, but you manage to kill the lich, save the city, and get away safe? Those moments make it worth it.
    See though, having read your post, my first thought was, "Wow, you've got more time on your hands than I do". Moving on, and thinking of your post now and then over the intervening time, I realize that if this is the attitude you apply also to RPGs, I have far less time left in my life than you must.

    See, I played Fallout: New Vegas and I absorbed the plot and interacted with the characters and I explored the environments and solved pretty much every quest and if I had to guess, it took me 15 hours on the outside. Now, if I had played it the way you describe, it might have taken as much as 10 times as long. Heck, 50 times as long wouldn't be outrageous.

    And you know what? At 15 hours of investment, I think the ending sucked (still less than Fallout 3's ending though). I can only imagine what I would have felt after 750 hours, where I got to relive the intriguing stages of the plot again and again, building up in my mind what the payoff was finally going to be. Then... I'd win. And that was it. Just... that ending. I would find myself filled with an emptiness... all that effort, all those frustrations, all the risk, all the learning of exactly which skills are still useful and which don't do anything anymore, how to achieve levels, where is the earliest place I can find a Chinese Assault Rifle at the lowest risk... and then that's all I get for it.

    Great, whatever, so I'm really good at Fallout: New Vegas now. But I could have moved on, experienced the characters and story of two dozen other games or books in the time I took. And now I'm never going to want to play it again, because... I already tried every possible combination of actions and characters just trying to get a successful character the one time it counts.

    Am I playing the game to experience the story, or am I playing AGAINST the game to earn the story? If I DO play against the game to earn the story, and the story is unsatisfying, doesn't that kind of... suck even more?
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    Default Re: Making players accept death as part of the game.

    Quote Originally Posted by Jerthanis View Post
    Am I playing the game to experience the story, or am I playing AGAINST the game to earn the story? If I DO play against the game to earn the story, and the story is unsatisfying, doesn't that kind of... suck even more?
    Some people (I am not one of them) would probably consider that the mere fact of having beaten the game at such difficulty is enough of a reward. At least, that's the only reason I can give for the existence of roguelikes (as I've alluded to earlier), which are programmed deliberately to extend that to its logical conclusion. There is almost no story, no graphics, no impressive gameplay, just a complex combat system, unlabeled magic items, and lots and lots and lots of brutal monsters and traps that will kill you if you make a mistake or get unlucky in combat or guess wrong or didn't manage to pick up a particular item earlier. And a single artifact at the end that you're trying to get, and then all the same monsters all over again on the way up.

    Different strokes for different folks. *shrug*
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    Default Re: Making players accept death as part of the game.

    @ Jerthanis: If DaTedinator plays a game in a way that takes him ten times as long, it need not mean he spends more time playing than you do. It may just mean he spends 1/10 of the money on games you do.
    If I buy a game and spend a measly 15 hours on it, I feel absolutely ripped off.
    Aside from that, what tuggyne said.
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  27. - Top - End - #57
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    Default Re: Making players accept death as part of the game.

    Quote Originally Posted by hymer View Post
    @ Jerthanis: If DaTedinator plays a game in a way that takes him ten times as long, it need not mean he spends more time playing than you do. It may just mean he spends 1/10 of the money on games you do.
    If I buy a game and spend a measly 15 hours on it, I feel absolutely ripped off.
    Aside from that, what tuggyne said.
    I primarily use rentals, and only buy games I know I'll play for decades, and then only when their prices drop to 30 dollars or less. I own 7 games for the current console gaming generation, and 4 of them were gifts.

    Don't get me wrong, I play video games on Hard the first time I put them in, and have gotten to the end of Demon's Souls and Dark Souls. I play games this way because I learn more about the way the game is played. However, I'm merely talking about the way this can impact a story with unsatisfactory payoffs, which is a set that includes many RPGs on the tabletop as well as in videogames.
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    Default Re: Making players accept death as part of the game.

    Quote Originally Posted by PJ Garrison View Post
    Because basic D&D and AD&D are so lethal at low levels, there is a tendency to not get attached to them until they've gotten a few levels under their belt. Old-School players had to get smart FAST to keep their players alive. And this, I think, leads to really creative play and a sense of danger and excitement.
    To keep their players alive? Jesus, those guys were freakin' hardcore.

    At any rate, we don't bother with a character sheet until around third level, so I prefer a higher lethality game. Taking huge risks for huge payoffs is just so much sweeter when there is a very real chance I'll wind up a grease smear on the dungeon floor.

    Of course, I'm a bit reckless; I've got a whole folder of back-ups ready in case a character bites it.
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    Default Re: Making players accept death as part of the game.

    I'm feeling a bit mean tonight, so I'm going to make this suggestion; maim him.

    Being crippled can be so much worse than being killed, at least in the short-term and for adventuring purposes. Just keep making it worse until he wants you to kill his character. Ideally the situation should end with something like this:

    " Okay, first that owlbear managed to bite my arm off, and I went with it. Then that ooze managed to disolve my leg, so I got a peg-leg replacement and we coninued. Then an otyugh managed to snap my spine, and the party fighter strapped me to his back to carry my through the remainder of the dungeon, but I didn't say anything. Now you've had a darkmantle remove one of my eyes!? Why don't you just kill me already?!" to which you reply with the most innocent look you can muster "but you said having your character killed would bother you? "



    Do note that the above is just about the biggest d-bag move you can pull; but like I said, I'm feeling mean tonight.
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    Default Re: Making players accept death as part of the game.

    Huh... in retrospect, I agree with many people in this thread.

    The best way for his character to not die is for him to not adventure. Plain and simple.
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