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D&D 3E
PC death 
4th-Mar-2006 11:06 am
i'm running age of worms. i'm an experienced player but not a terribly experienced DM, especially not in 3.5 edition. anyway i fully expect the game to get more deadly. none of the pc's have died yet but one came close recently.

the pc's were exploring a storage room. they were raiding an active temple. as they moved from one room to another where they were about to get ambushed one of the players said something like "i'm a little down on hit points i should have healed myself while we were in that last room" but she didn't. in the fight that ensued she died, her pc dropped to -11 hp.

she seemed upset that her character died and she's a good roleplayer with one of the more interesting pc's in the party. it was really a player oversight that she hadn't healed herself with a wand of cure light wounds that they'd found. it has become pretty common practice that she does that every so often. so in the interest of the party and game stability i let her burn a charge on the wand "retroactively". as i remember her pc was still unconscious even after the effects of the wand were applied. it was a challenging battle with everyone but the party mage down at one point. but they managed to overcome and survive.

i suppose technically the pc died and i should have left it that way. but there is a rule in the dmg about standard operating procedure and keeping the game moving by assuming tings that always happen always happen, even if the players don't specifically say they did it, things like rogues checking for traps even if they don't mention it, stuff like that. i don't mind fudging the way i did when this happened. i may have been playing favorites because i do really like that character. given the circumstances i would have done it for any of the pc's, and if she hadn't just said "i should have healed myself" i would have let the pc die.

at any rate, the pc's constantly surprise me. they have trouble with what i expect to be easy combats and stomp right through what i expect to be easy fights. all that aside, i do expect one or more of the pc's to die soon. they're at a point now where they can probably afford resurrection magic, or something of the sort. i'm interested to see how things turn out when it happens.

the player running the mage is prudent and rarely ends up in a tricky position. the party cleric is a high HP tank and he survives well. the party paladin (the one who almost died) seems to take a fair amount of damage. the party rogue is greedy, selfish, and conniving. but selfish motivations and survival instinct aside the pc unflinchingly runs into flanking position when necessary, and scouts ahead alone without being asked (sometimes when asked specifically NOT to).

so i kind of expect a PC to die soon, and i kind of expect it to be the rogue or the paladin. i'm not sure how that's gonna fly. both those players put a lot of thought into their characters and how they want to play them. the interaction between those pc's is interesting too, they don't really get along which i like to watch. i guess i'm kind of rambling here. but i've been thinking about it a lot lately. since they always confound my expectations they probably won't die or even come close this weekend when we play. still, it could get interesting, and not in a fun way.
4th-Mar-2006 05:22 pm (UTC)
I think it was a good fudge
4th-Mar-2006 07:19 pm (UTC)
I'll second that fudge making.
4th-Mar-2006 07:23 pm (UTC)
Thirded, motion passed.
4th-Mar-2006 06:10 pm (UTC)
I'm really not saying this to be a jerk, but when I see a huge block of text like what you've posted, I go out of my way not to read it. Its mentally exhausting to try to seperate this kind of thing into complete sentences and paragraphs. Sorry.
4th-Mar-2006 06:25 pm (UTC)
fair enough, and oddly enough, i often do the same thing myself. i went back and edited it up a bit. if there's anything else i can do to make your internet experience more enjoyable, please don't hesitate to mention it.
4th-Mar-2006 08:37 pm (UTC)
LOL. LJ-Cutzzzors!!!

But seriously, you could take advantage of A the conniving antics of the rouge, B)the nature of tghe paladin. C) the general instability of the party.

Here's what you do. I heard about this, I believe, from teh Dragons Landing podcast, which you should check out. Though I might have read it in KODT. Anyhow.

During camp/rest pass the rogue a note. It could be a reminder that he needs to make sure he's not using more space in his bag of holding than he should, or that he has a toothache or whatever.

The objection is to provoke a dialogue with him, through the use of notes.
Once the other players are paying attention, pass a note to the paladin that his holy symbol made from gold, or wand of true strike or whatever is missing.

The previous note passing with the rogue will make him an instant suspect, causing crit to hit the fan.

Now just sit back and enjoy. After the dust clears, have some one catch a pixie going through their bag.

If the paladin kills the rogue, he could lose his abilities until he makes things right by ressurecting the rogue. Eventually, this could bring the party together, as they now have a good story to laugh over.
4th-Mar-2006 07:30 pm (UTC)
I'm currently a player in the AoW in the Eberron Campaign setting (Changeling Rogue/Fighter that's the face of the party), and we're at the beginning of the Spire of Long Shadows (or whatever it's called, I don't know much about the present or the future of the campaign, per my DMs request).

It's a deadly campaign, for sure, as their are supposedly a lot of TPKs. My character has had 2 fudged deaths. One at which I was dropped to -10 from a suprise by flanking people on the mine labyrinth while I was outside dealing with personal stuff, and I came in and my character was dead without a chance to attack or roll away (tumble is my friend). My DM let me burn an action point to stabilize back at -9 since it was a tad unfair and I was having a crappy day.

The 2nd time was when I got hit by the Tiefling Cleric under the coliseum (in the Belt of Champions) and I failed my will save by one. However, we had all leveled the previous adventure, and I had forgotten to do so. Instead, my DM allowed that as I would've saved, and nobody actually bothered trying to perform a heal check, I was still alive, just knocked out. My character also has a permanent scar from the encounter (bad for changelings that like to change form all the time).

Anyways, all that to say, it was a good fudge. Expect to do it once or twice more by the end of the AoW when near death is needed. We have lost one party member, and everyone has almost died (hit negatives) more than once (some more than once a session).

Also, in Diamond Lake, there is one scroll of raise dead that can be used if the players do some good RPing (which it sounds like your group shouldn't have problems doing).
4th-Mar-2006 07:58 pm (UTC)
My thoughts, in no partiuclar order and with subjects bolded for easy skimming:

Require a written S.O.P. There's a lot to be said for standard operating procedures, but they should be a shorthand, not a way to skip over and bend the rules. If your PCs want to have their S.O.P., prompt them after each battle to ask if they're stopping for their SOP -- and then let them do the rolling and charge-counting for any healing that they do.

Suggest backup or alternate characters: Of the players in my group now, one is switching to his third "live" character, one is on his second and thinking about bringing back his first, the wife wants to swap out hers for a more aggressive PC, and my last two are still haphazard players who rested on others for most of their charcter's development. The benefit to all this is that, when a PC actually dies, it's not an absolute hardship that requirse a sudden three-hour break.

Look into alternate rules. The D&D designers are well aware of how hard it is to keep a hack-and-slash group of PCs both challenged and alive. Shoot me an email (LJ_name at gmail.com) and I'll send you what I do, or go to www.d20srd.com and look up "Reserve Points". (And, there's always the old, old rule, "0 hp means unconcioussness, seperate attack action to kill".)

Death is not the end. A dead PC, especially a priest or paladin, might recieve a vision from the divine when they get near death. Especially if they follow a warrior-type god. And even PCs that aren't could wind up still sticking around as characters -- I recall one player who, after her PC was killed by a fellow party member, I simply handed the Ghost Template to and let her haunt him for the rest of the night.

Trust CR and write out tactics: I can't count the number of times that I've miscalculated a foe, or that I've forgotten about an enemy's strong ability. When you make an NPC, spend a few minutes writing out a 5-line tactics plan, like those in the 3.5 MM. Keep it loose and general, but have it make sense.

Consider electronic assistance: Laptops are modestly cheap new (I'm going for a $700 in a month or so), and you can even get a with-monitor PC (either an ultra-cheap Wal-Mart special or one of AMD's Personal Internet Communicator), all before we mention used equipment.

What do you do with a PC for gaming? Well, if you can, you code a web-page program to help you out or use an Excel spreadsheet, or you spend some money and get DM Genie or a similar program. Heck, I'm even aware of some Palm OS gaming assitances, and the cheaper Palm PDAs are under $100 new.

(Oh, and btw, sorry to remove you from my friends list, but it was just getting too crowded there.)
4th-Mar-2006 11:07 pm (UTC)
As a DM, I once suffered a potentially campaign-destroying Full Party Death as a result of one player's betrayal. Rather than let it wreck my entire storyline, I followed the characters through their journey to Hell (as they were all dirty, if well-meaning pirates). I had just read The Inferno and I had to come up with some pretty wacky ways for loose spirits to regain corporeal bodies and return to the PMP. It wound up beign some fun series of puzzles and a major plot device that I've been using for the rest of the campaign.
6th-Mar-2006 02:17 pm (UTC)
I would assume that the paladin was pretty beaten up before entering the encounter where she died, so I think letting her retroactively healing isn't a bad idea. You wouldn't stagger around battered and bleeding without doing something about it, and neither would the PC's. But, I would make her pay for it. Have her lose a point of CON semi-permanantly, or have the wand use its final charge.
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